Questions I often ask myself

Chenny asked me what kinds of things I’m concerned about, so I started reflecting on the kinds of questions I usually ask myself. Here’s a rough list with some examples:

  • What could make things a little bit better? How can I compound those improvements? A few notes on kaizen
  • Which trade-offs might be worth it? Which ones do I decide against? How can I experiment?
  • What do I want from this stage? What has changed? How can I make the most of that? What’s coming up next? Examples: 2018-07-29b, 2017-05-07a
  • What could awesome look like? How can I tell if I’m on the right track? How far do I want to go? Example, other posts
  • What might failure look like? What are the warning signs? Example: Experiment pre-mortem, Update
  • What are the risks and downsides? How can I mitigate them?
  • How can I make things easier for future me?
  • How can I test and work around my current limits? Ex: squirrel brain
  • What do I want to remember, reflect on, and share?
  • What do my decisions tell me about my values? Do I agree? Do I want to change things?
  • What are the results of past decisions and experiments? What can I learn from those? A few notes on decisions
  • How do I want to grow?
  • What do I want to learn? How can I learn it? What do I know now?
  • How can I get better at seeing, noticing, asking, reflecting, organizing, sharing, improving?
  • Where can I take advantage of leverage or comparative advantage? Where is it good to not optimize along obvious dimensions?
  • What would I do if I were starting from scratch? Which sunk costs should I ignore?
  • What can I break down, connect, or transform?
  • How am I different from alternate universe mes? How can I make the most of that? Example
  • What happens if I look closely at my discomfort or fear? Where am I shying away from something, and why? Example: uncertainty, working on my own things, the experiment
  • Where does it make sense to take on more difficulty or do things worse so that I can do things even better later on?
  • What have I forgotten or neglected? What do I want to reclaim, and what do I want to let go? Some thoughts
  • What do I not know to look for? How can I bump into stuff like that?

At the moment, I’m focused on time and attention. I think about what’s worth giving up sleep for, and how sleeping more might help with some things like thinking. I think about time with W- and A-. I think about week-to-week changes and how I can adapt. I think about how we can use little bits of time to improve things in order to more effectively use time. There’s definitely a lot to figure out!

2018-08-20 Emacs news

Links from, /r/orgmode, /r/spacemacs, Hacker News,, YouTube, the changes to the Emacs NEWS file, and emacs-devel.

Monthly review: July 2018

  • Field trips: It was a busy month with lots of going out. We went to Maker Festival and friends’ parties, took the bike trailer to Vermont Square park, and went to nature classes.
  • Motor skills: A- figured out how to climb up the twisty slide barefoot, and she enjoyed imitating yoga poses from a storybook we read together. She practised riding her balance bike and buckling and unbuckling her helmet.
  • Sensory: She discovered the joys of splash pads and wading pools, and ranged further and further afield. She made handprints with tempera paint.
  • Self-care: She practised picking out her clothes and occasionally dressing herself. She dealt with big emotions (“I hate everything!”) and we patiently helped her figure out what she really wanted. She skinned her knees and got them patched up.
  • Household: She helped with laundry, mopping, and groceries.
  • Social: She learned how to ask librarians to request books, and I made a book about the process. She showed her grandparents lots of things she could do, and started preferring to spend time alone with W-.
  • World: She enjoyed eating grape tomatoes and strawberries from the garden. She played with her shadow and her reflection.
  • Language:
    • On reading My World: “He’s looking at his watch to see if it’s bedtime for the kid in the crib.”
    • New protocol for reading: she signals when to turn the page. This gives her room for lots of observations when she feels like it. It would probably be better for her to turn the pages herself, but she’ll get there someday.
    • A- asked for something and said, “I would be happy.”
    • “I’m not awesome. I’m brave.”
    • Planning for tomorrow: “The park with the big swings. Tomorrow, let’s go there.” (4.6 Temporal)
    • Making a request and providing a reason: “Nanay, take your glasses off so I can brush easily.” (3.2.2 Sentences)
    • “I think I will have some blueberries.”
    • I took A-‘s dry diaper off as soon as we woke up. A- said, “I am practising toilet training.”
    • “Ow.” “What happened?” “I want kneepads.”
    • W- was trying to teach A- knock-knock jokes. “Knock knock. Now you say, ‘Who’s there?'” “Who’s there?” “Interrupting cow.” “Moo cow!” … I guess that works too.
    • W- told A-, “After we dry my glasses, I’ll brush your teeth.” A- replied, “Savvy.”
    • A- was laughing. Then she said, “Hahaha, I’m laughing so loud, hahaha.” This cracked us up, of course. Then she said, “Hahaha, we’re laughing together, hahaha.”
    • A- experimented with describing people, identifying herself as “someone in a yellow dress” and me as “someone in a blue shirt.”
    • A- now makes up songs and stories while waiting. She sang, “Avocado, avocado, what do you see?” and a few other stanzas, and then said, “Once upon a time, there was a little girl named A- who wanted to eat an avocado but Mama said it was not yet ripe.”
  • Pretend
    • W- made a Duplo flower shop and roleplayed that with A-.
    • A- wanted to ride her balance bike with a pretend bike trailer.
    • A- pretended to be a dead bird, so I brushed her beak while she lay on the floor.
    • A- picked a Duplo figure to represent W- – the one with a cap. She pretended all three of us were on an airplane, and she also pretended he was pushing her on a swing in the playground. (4.7.2 Representation)
    • Someone had dug a small pit near the edge of the sandbox, so A- had fun pretending to be a dinosaur trapped in the pit. Also, we picked up a bunch of free IKEA kid’s cups on the way to the playground, and they made good sandcastle molds.
    • A- wanted to pretend that W- was the ocularist. The post-appointment toy chest was definitely her focus.
    • A- started pretending to be S-.
    • A- pretended to be a cat. She wanted to lick pretend wet food (yogurt) off a saucer on the floor.
  • Kaizen
    • I drew and printed visual routines for walking up, daily chores, and weekend chores on index cards. I covered the cards with contact paper to protect them.
    • I made lots of red bean buns, and I experimented with making red bean rolls. The rolls were easier to make, but the buns were prettier.
    • I shifted to drawing more while waiting for A-. It’s a good way to use time.
  • Us
    • I returned my old work laptop after setting up the new one.
    • I made a book about asking for books from the library.
    • Somehow I managed to find time to write and draw. It’s hard to imagine that now, since we’re in a bit of a time crunch because of changing routines, but maybe we’ll figure it out again.

Blog posts



Category Previous month % This month % Diff h/wk Diff h/wk
Sleep 29.8 35.1 5.3 61.0 9.0
A- 42.9 47.1 4.2 81.8 7.1
Discretionary – Social 0.9 1.6 0.7 2.8 1.2
Business – Build 0.1 0.2 0.1 0.3 0.1
Discretionary – Family 1.1 0.9 -0.2 1.5 -0.4
Business – Earn 2.3 1.7 -0.5 3.0 -0.9
Discretionary – Play 1.2 0.2 -0.9 0.4 -1.5
Unpaid work 6.5 4.4 -2.1 7.7 -3.5
Discretionary – Productive 5.0 2.8 -2.3 4.8 -3.8
Personal 10.2 5.9 -4.4 10.2 -7.3

Hmm. This says I got an average of 8.7 hours of sleep a night, and that childcare still managed to go up. Interesting. I think some of it can be explained by leaving the tracker on Childcare instead of switching it to track that I’m walking when I’m out on a walk with A-. Less discretionary time, but it feels like better use of it. I should try prioritizing sleep again and see what happens.

August: A couple of medical appointments, the end of nature class, and general summery things.

Weekly review: Week ending August 17, 2018

  • Gross motor
    • W- taught A- how to do the running man exercise. She liked doing it on her own, too, and she liked telling me to do it with her.
  • Fine motor
    • A- was interested in building with LEGO instead of Duplo. She disassembled the yellow box and tried putting it back together. She managed to put a few blocks in properly before wandering off.
  • Sensory
    • A- wanted to bring her backpack on our outing. I used my carabiner to clip it to my bag, which I tucked into J-‘s stroller. When A- wanted to wear it, I unclipped it, but left the carabiner on. My keys jangled as A- ran. I asked her to stop so that I could unhook the carabiner. After a few steps, she stopped and said, “I want my keys.” When I clipped them back on, she went back to running happily and noisily.
  • Self-care and independence
    • At A-‘s 30-month checkup, she measured 88 cm and 10.3 kg.
    • A- didn’t want me to brush her teeth, but was okay with W- brushing them. Also, she was okay with hanging out in the bathroom while I showered. Progress!
    • We’ve been working on weaning. Counting down or setting a timer stresses A- out. (“I want to nurse without limits. No counting! No timer!”) But if we talk about having a quick nurse, she delights in having a really really quick one. (“So fast!”)
  • Household
    • We went to Sweet Potato for some groceries because A- loves pushing the little cart around. She made a beeline for the nectarines and put one in her mouth while I was picking a watermelon. I added that nectarine to our cart and redirected her to the real bin with free fruit for kids. She walked around munching an apple while pushing the cart. Then she asked me for water. I forgot to bring our water bottle, so I told her we might need to wait until we got home. A employee overheard us and got us a cup of water, so we thanked her for her thoughtfulness and carried on shopping. A- didn’t like the 6% yogurt I got, but she liked the new carton of milk because it has a cap instead of a cardboard spout.
    • A large fly was buzzing around at home, so W- sprayed it until it was easy to catch. He wadded it up in tissue. A- had wanted to help, so he gave her the wad and a spray bottle. W- said he felt like a cat teaching a kitten how to hunt. A- happily sprayed it some more, saying “Sorry, sorry,” as she did so.
  • Social
    • A- and I had a fun video chat with Lola.
    • We went to the Horse Palace with Joy and J-. J- got a bit overstimulated, so after a quick tour, we went to a playground instead.
    • When I peeked into the room, A- saw me and started hopping up and down. “Private Daddy time!” she said. “Mama go somewhere else.”
    • A- pouted after W- carried her upstairs. She kept pouting for quite a few minutes. It was a hilariously exaggerated frown.
    • I was sleepy, so I decided to have a catnap on the couch while A- played in her play area. A- helpfully brought over a cushion for my head. Then she helpfully brought over a recorder and said, “I play music,” which I found funny. Fortunately, I wasn’t desperately sleepy. I had enough energy to cover the finger holes and help her experiment with modulating her breath, and to play the other recorder she brought me.
  • Pretend
    • A- asked for pretend ice cream (yogurt). She wanted it in a pretend waffle bowl, so I put it in a cereal bowl. That wasn’t enough, but wrapping my hands around the cereal bowl made it pass muster.
  • Us
    • I made dashi stock from kombu and bonito flakes, and then turned that into miso soup and furikake.
  • Sleep
    • We successfully read to sleep instead of nursing.
    • A- wanted W- to carry her into the house. She was sleepy, so W- practised putting A- to bed. Success!
    • A- was overtired, but she still wanted to stay up. W- and I were firm about us going to bed. A- said, “I want to hang out with the cats.”

Blog posts

Focus areas and time review

  • A- (Childcare) (73.2h – 43% of total)
  • Business (0.4h – 0%)
    • Earn (0.4h – 100% of Business)
  • Relationships (16.0h – 9%)
  • Discretionary – Productive (4.4h – 2%)
    • Drawing (1.0h)
    • Emacs (1.1h)
    • Sewing (0.6h)
  • Discretionary – Play (0.0h – 0%)
  • Personal routines (12.0h – 7%)
  • Unpaid work (10.1h – 6%)
  • Sleep (52.0h – 30% – average of 7.4 per day)

Ledger-cli and reporting stock allocations

Update 2018-08-19: fixed report.

W- wanted to know how I get Ledger to report my stock allocations. I have a networth.ledger that has the following:

N $

= /^Liabilities/
  ;  $account  -1
  (Net:0:Cash:$account)  1
  (Allocation:Cash:Assets)  1
= /Assets:Checking|Assets:Savings/ and not /USD/
  ;  $account  -1
  (Net:0:Cash:$account)  1
  (Allocation:Cash:$account)  1
= /Assets:GIC/
  ;  $account  -1
  (Allocation:Cash:GIC)  1
  (Net:5:Other)  1
= /Assets/ and /RRSP/
  ;  $account  -1
  (Net:3:Retirement:$account)  1
= /Bonds/ and not /RRSP/
  ;  $account  -1
  (Net:2:Bonds:$account)  1
= /Bonds/ 
  ;  $account  -1
  (Allocation:Bonds)  1
= /Investments/ and /International|TSX|US|VCN/ and not /RRSP/
  (Net:1:Stocks:$account)  1
= /Investments/ and /International/
  (Allocation:International)  1
= /Investments/ and /TSX|VCN/
  (Allocation:TSX)  1
= /Investments/ and /US/
  (Allocation:US)  1
= /Business:Bank:Chequing|Business:Bank:Savings|Business:Bank:ING/
  ;  $account  -1
  (Net:4:Business:$account)  1
  (Allocation:Cash:$account)  1
!include current.ledger
apply account Business
!include ~/cloud/ledger/business.ledger

It uses the amounts from my regular ledger to set up virtual accounts for easier allocation or net worth reporting. I excluded the USD account because I get Error: Cannot convert a balance with multiple commodities to an amount even though everything gets correctly converted to $ if I use the command-line option -X $.

Then I use the following reports, mostly based on the example in the Ledger manual. Allocation excluding cash:

ledger -X $ -V -f /home/sacha/cloud/ledger/networth.ledger --depth=3 bal ^Allocation and not Cash --current --format "\
        %10(percent(market(display_total), market(\

Allocation including cash:

ledger -X $ -V -f /home/sacha/cloud/ledger/networth.ledger --depth=3 bal ^Allocation --current --format "\
        %10(percent(market(display_total), market(\

Weekly review: Week ending August 10, 2018

  • Field trip
    • We went to the Horse Palace and caught the show. A- liked pretending to be a farmer (milking a pretend cow, collecting pretend eggs, etc.), riding a mechanical horse, riding a small cart, riding a small motorized tractor, and watching the show. She decided to skip the pony ride.
  • Gross motor
    • A- got the hang of doing forward rolls and did them all over the mattress.
  • Language
    • “I don’t like Mama’s friends. I like my own friends. I like E-.”
    • “I don’t know that word. The water word,” A- said, referring to the word “gulp” from a book we had read earlier that afternoon.
    • “‘Let me go first,’ said the train. ‘Let me go last,’ said the train.” I’m not sure where that came from, but it was interesting to hear her make up a pair of quotes.
    • Talking about thoughts: “I thought about the cart.”
  • Music
    • A- asked me to sing “Drink Up Me Hearties” while she nursed.
  • Art
    • A- made a book by gluing felt pieces to paper. She called it her colouring book.
  • Self-care and independence
    • A- went upstairs to get her own clothes all by herself. She came down with a shirt and two pairs of pants. Turned out she wanted to wear one pair of pants as a hat.
    • A- wanted to learn how to tie my shoelaces. I managed to help her through one bow.
    • I’m working on going to sleep more predictably, although I’m okay with A- staying up a little if she wants to. This week, I introduced a musical signal for when I’m going to sleep, which might become a good alternative cue since we’re also working on night weaning.
  • Emotion
    • A- was upset because I set limits on nursing. After lots of crying, she said, “I want Sheep to hold.” She fell asleep snuggling Sheep while I snuggled her.
  • Social
    • A- looked at her shoes on the new shelf, decided the new shelf was all hers, and moved our extra shoes off the shelf.
    • I reminded A- that she needed to be quiet in W-‘s room. She said, “I’m being quiet,” and then proceeded to sing “Eh soom boo kawaya” in a whisper.
  • Pretend
    • A- pretended to be the neighbour’s dog. She liked fetching a small ball.
    • A- wanted to copy the way the Cat in the Hat held his hands. She asked me to teach her. After I arranged her fingers, she smiled the way she thought the cat smiled.
    • A- roleplayed as Yousria from the drop-in centre. She asked W- to knock on the pretend door, and then she opened it and welcomed him in. She also roleplayed checking into a hotel, getting the room key, and putting the room key into a slot by the door.
    • A- pretended to play a tug-of-war with an imaginary carrot, roleplaying the scene from “Warning! Do Not Touch!”.
    • A- reenacted scenes from the Curious George book. She liked pretending to be caught in a hat or blown away with balloons. She also liked pretending to go to the zoo and distribute balloons.
    • Yay, nature class is starting to influence play. A- wanted to make a nest out of a blanket. She pretended to sleep on invisible eggs.
  • Cognition
    • W- found the Opposites game in my stash. A- matched up cards with a little help. I think she mostly went by picture similarity, but she was also able to complete pairs if we labeled them verbally and gave her choices.
    • A- wanted to play with the opposites puzzle. She matched up three sets of five pairs.
  • World
    • We followed a garbage truck up the street. A- liked watching the arms shake out the contents of the bins, and she also liked waving at the worker.
    • The nature class focused on trees. We looked at woodpecker holes, used forest matter to make nests, and sniffed a sassafras leaf.
  • Kaizen
    • W- fixed his glasses and I started patching my carrier.
    • We tidied up the front shelf and added an extra level. W- prototyped a shallow divider to keep the backpacks upright.
  • Us
    • I reviewed the past year.

Blog posts


Focus areas and time review

  • A- (Childcare) (70.8h – 42% of total)
  • Business (0.4h – 0%)
    • Build (0.4h – 100% of Business)
  • Relationships (2.5h – 1%)
  • Discretionary – Productive (8.1h – 4%)
    • Drawing (2.5h)
    • Emacs (0.2h)
    • Sewing (1.0h)
    • Writing (3.0h)
  • Discretionary – Play (1.1h – 0%)
  • Personal routines (12.3h – 7%)
  • Unpaid work (18.7h – 11%)
  • Sleep (54.2h – 32% – average of 7.7 per day)