January 2017

Weekly review: Week ending December 30, 2016

January 1, 2017 - Categories: review, weekly

We lost A-‘s ocular prosthesis again, this time somewhere at home. It had been slipping out once or twice a day, sometimes even when she wasn’t touching it. People in the online support group said that’s often a sign that it’s too small. We’re going to see if the ocularist can step up his game and make one that’s a better fit, or if it’s time to shop around. 75% government funding and additional help from W-‘s health benefits soften the blow a little, but if a replacement isn’t eligible for coverage, it’s a lot to pay for something that might not fit well. We’ll just have to see. I don’t think it would be practical to patch her eye 24/7 to help keep it in, so we’ll just have to work on finding it whenever it comes out – at least until she becomes responsible enough to keep track of it herself, which could take several years. Anyway, that’s life.

On the plus side, we’ve been enjoying the Junior Engineer set that my sister and her husband gave us. It’s a collection of beams, plates, axles, pins, nuts, bolts, cubes, triangles, and wheels – a bit like LEGO Technic, but for the younger crowd. A- likes pulling things out of the basket and offering them to W-, who then figures out how to incorporate those things into whatever he’s building. I’m methodically working my way through the models in the instruction manual. 3 down, 85 to go.

A-‘s play area in the living room is shaping up nicely. The Junior Engineer set is there, as well as the toys W-‘s family gave her at the Christmas get-together. W- installed a ledge for displaying a few books. We have a bin for rotating toys so that we don’t have too many out at once. This also makes clean-up easier. It’s become a nice place to hang out with A-, and we’re developing a good rhythm of playing, doing chores, and going for walks.

We were out for a walk almost every day, except for that time there was a lot of freezing rain. We’ve been skipping the snow suit for walks in the neighbourhood – the blankets and scarves I wrap around us seem to be enough to keep her warm in 0-degree-ish weather. This means it’s easier to get out of the house, and to come back in after. Yay walking!

The Junction Family Resource Centre turned out to be open, so we dropped by for snack time and circle time. A- was a little quiet – once again getting used to the stimulation of having all those kids around, I guess – but she seemed to have fun taking all the rattles out of one of the bins, and putting them back in again. She ate two apple slices and three slices of cheddar all by herself. Such progress since the last time I had taken her to the JFRC!

We chatted with my mom on Christmas and she gave us a few updates on the health issues that she and my dad are dealing with. Ah, life.

Lots of cooking. We made a number of banchan to accompany roast beef in bibimbap bowls: spinach, mushrooms, carrots… Congee made with mushroom soaking water picked up a deliciously earthy flavour. The roast vegetable techniques from the science of cooking book – cutting the vegetables into batons, steaming them in the roasting pan under a tight cover of foil before uncovering and browning them – resulted in tender, sweet roasted veg. The meat-stuffed vegetable recipe from the visual cookbook J- gave me didn’t turn out as appetizing, but maybe I just need to double the filling and add more salt. Hmm… I want to get better at capturing and building on our cooking notes, too, so I might write more about cooking here.

Capturing ideas and fleshing them out on my phone is working well. I’ve been using Tasks Free to jot down ideas for sketches, and that makes my limited computer time more efficient. I like its drag and drop capabilities and synchronization more than I like Orgzly. There’s a script to synchronize Google Tasks with Org Mode, anyway. As a result, I drew quite a few non-journal sketches this week.

I also managed to do a little coding. I finally got around to adding a date filter to my theme. While testing it, I realized that my blog had been quietly dropping paragraph breaks – how embarrassing! I discovered that just as A- woke up crying from a nap, so I was rather frazzled, but W- stepped in and took care of her. Fortunately, I managed to quickly narrow down the problem and fix it by upgrading a plugin. Got two blog posts out of that, too.

And I even got to play video games with W-! A- had been going to sleep at 9 or so, which gave me some time to join W- on a new playthrough of Borderlands 2. Whenever A- woke up, I put down the controller and dashed upstairs to spend time with her. It usually took a short time to settle her back down. Sometimes W- dropped my character out so that he could keep playing, and sometimes he filled in the time with other activities. He’s a couple of levels ahead of me, but it all balances out with the way Borderlands 2 handles experience. Anyway, spending time with him is on my priority list too – video gaming time is cheaper than therapy. :) It’s fun to be able to team up again.

Next week: more writing and playing, perhaps!

Blog posts

Sketches

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (0.5h – 0%)
    • Earn (0.0h – 0% of Business)
    • Build (0.0h – 0% of Business)
    • Connect (0.5h – 100% of Business)
  • Relationships (3.1h – 1%)
  • Discretionary – Productive (6.4h – 3%)
    • Drawing (2.8h)
      • ☑ Braindump a bunch of sketches
    • Emacs (0.6h)
    • Coding (1.3h)
      • ☑ Investigate WordPress date filter, add to theme
      • ☑ Fixed paragraph breaks in WordPress, no more wall of text
      • ☑ Set up inbox
    • Sewing (0.0h)
    • Writing (1.8h)
  • Discretionary – Play (10.7h – 6%)
    • ☑ Play Borderlands
  • Personal routines (15.3h – 9%)
  • Unpaid work (74.3h – 44%)
    • Childcare (61.9h – 36% of total)
  • Sleep (57.6h – 34% – average of 8.2 per day)

2017-01-02 Emacs News

January 3, 2017 - Categories: emacs, emacs-news

Planning for safety glasses

January 6, 2017 - Categories: parenting

The pediatric ophthalmologist prescribed glasses for A- to help keep her right eye safe now that she’s more mobile, to protect the only vision she has. No grade, just polycarbonate lenses.

Many of the parents in the microphthalmia support group we’re in are fans of Miraflex glasses, which are flexible and pretty much toddler-proof. There are quite a few local shops that carry them. I’ll take A- in for a fitting when the weather warms up next week. It’s a bit pricey, but insurance will cover this one. We might need to pay for the next one out of pocket, but we can figure out how things are going then.

From other parents’ experiences, I expect that we’ll need to help A- get accustomed to wearing them. Some kids really don’t like wearing glasses, and other kids eventually get so used to them that they want to wear them all the time. A- will be influenced by the way we approach things, so it helps to think things through.

Because her lenses won’t have prescriptions in them, there’s no built-in benefit for her in terms of clearer vision. If we’re lucky, she’ll think of them as a way to imitate us, since W- and I both wear glasses. If I develop a matter-of-fact approach to cleaning and putting her glasses back on, she may accept it as just a thing we do, like how we hope to treat wearing her ocular prosthesis. And then of course, there’s letting her pick out her own frames when she gets a little older (plus maybe a few inexpensive ones as backups, depending on how things go). If we invest the time and energy to get her used to them now, she might accept them as part of her life before the boundary-testing of the toddler years.

One more thing to keep track of, plan for, and take care of, but that’s okay. We signed up for all of it. :)

What do I want from my Org Mode files?

January 7, 2017 - Categories: emacs, org, organization

What do I want from the notes I keep in Org Mode, how’s that working out, and how can I improve?

Remind me of important tasks, especially recurring ones or ones in the far future
This works pretty well, especially with my weekly review. I mostly trust it, although it might be nice to use the timeline view to review tasks over the next few years just to make sure the important ones are there. And backups!
Keep detailed checklists, instructions, and notes, so that I don’t miss any steps or have to figure things out again when I’m sleep-deprived
I’ve found this useful when dealing with my business paperwork, and I look forward to documenting more routines.
Capture quick thoughts and tasks so that they don’t clutter up my mind
org-capture is good when I’m at my computer, and Google Tasks is a decent inbox when I’m away. Not very good at reviewing and refiling the items, though, but I can do that when I have more discretionary time.
Break bigger projects down into manageable tasks
I don’t have the brainspace right now to work on projects, so most of these have been shelved. I need to tweak my Org refile targets to make organizing things easier. I might be running into a limit with too many targets. Sometimes I can’t use org-refile to select a task that I already know exists.
Help me untangle my thoughts or keep a trail of breadcrumbs as I solve problems
Pretty good at this. Limited by computer time at the moment.
Pull together information and help me summarize
The code I wrote for my weekly and monthly reviews is working well. The code for Emacs News is decent, too, although I can save a little more time if I fix my function for opening all links in a region.
Draft blog posts
This is working well. It could be a little better if I sorted out image uploading and resizing, but my current workflow is fine.
Help me make the most of my limited computer time by prioritizing small tasks that move me forward
This is probably the weakest area. Right now, I tend to prioritize drawing, then checking my agenda for urgent/quick tasks, and maybe writing if I can squeeze it in. I mostly save writing for my phone, though, because I can write on my phone and I can’t do the other tasks then. Coding might help me improve efficiency, but that might have to wait until I have more focused time. It’s okay, I’ll get back to that someday. I think getting better at writing and posting will pay off well enough in the short term. If I give myself permission to post short, possibly incomplete thoughts (like I tell people to! :) ), I’ll get more stuff out there, and then I can build up from there.
Keep notes on people
Little memories, triggers for thoughtfulness, etc. I’m definitely the bottleneck here, not Org.
Help me review my decisions
It’s good to write down goals, options considered, criteria, trade-offs, reasons, predicted results, and so on. My bottleneck is probably taking the time to do so. People are good at rationalization, so I’m not trying to judge whether something was a good decision or a bad decision, but it’s interesting to see what decisions and evaluations reveal about my preferences and values.
Remind me about tools, how to use them, why, and so on
This is partly why I have a literate configuration – so the outline can remind me about stuff I’ve already coded. It’s also handy to keep track of commands and scripts that help me with various tasks. I just need to remember to copy and paste stuff as I do things.

Overall, I’m okay with input and output. Processing is my bottleneck at the moment. If I either fix that org-refile issue I’ve been running into, or come up with an alternative flexible search that will help me find outline entries when I don’t quite remember the headline, that should make processing a bit easier. A bit of outline gardening would help, too – archiving things that are no longer relevant, refiling notes and improving their headlines/text for searchability, maybe prioritizing tasks based on costs and benefits… I’m not entirely sure I’d be comfortable doing that on my phone, so it will have to wait for computer time.

In the meantime, I’m glad I have a place to accumulate (and eventually organize) all those notes!

Monthly review: December 2016

January 8, 2017 - Categories: monthly, review

After enjoying lots of time with old friends and family, we flew back to Toronto and settled into our household routines. The flights back were a bit more comfortable, thanks to the timing and the rest areas at the Manila and Incheon airports. It took A- and I a few weeks to get over jet lag, since I mostly went by her cues. Short days and cold weather made it harder to reset her circadian rhythm, but we eventually synced up with W-. We even got back into the habit of walking again, once we were mostly lined up with daylight.

One of the unexpected benefits of going on this trip was the realization that congee and bibimbap can be part of our everyday routines, thanks to inexpensive and easily-cooked ingredients. I just need to marinate ground beef or pork in soy sauce, brown it, and keep it in the fridge, and gradually build up a supply of banchan when there’s time. Yum yum yum. W- picked up a container of gochujang, and we’ve been making good progress through it too.

Since we lost A-‘s painted shell, I took A- to be fitted for a clear conformer. This one kept popping out, though – sometimes twice a day, sometimes even when she wasn’t touching it. Eventually we lost it somewhere in the house, which was very mystifying. I’ll be taking her for another one in January. I hope this one fits better, or else I might have to tweak the budget a bit.

On the plus side, A- has gotten the hang of clapping. It’s awesome. She claps for herself, she claps for us, she claps when she wakes up and it’s another nice day… :) She’s also gotten a lot of practice in putting things on top of other things/cats/parents. She likes putting things into and taking things out of baskets, which makes laundry time more interesting. She’s getting more confident about crawling even around the corner and out of sight, and she’s often keen to walk with our help.

W- created a play area in the living room, and we’ve been spending a lot of time in it. New lights and more floor space really changed the feel of the room. We also put up elephant stickers in A-‘s room, which feels a lot more like a nursery now. (W- oiled the hinges, too, so it’s easier to go in and out without worrying about waking her up.)

A- continues to follow the 15th percentile curve in terms of weight. She got the second half of the flu shot, so she’ll probably be okay this season.

We went to Brantford for W-‘s family’s Christmas thing. A- was okay with the long car ride, although we needed to make one stop on the way there so that she could nurse. That was the day we lost her clear conformer, too, so we were a little frazzled. She mostly stayed close to us, although she warmed up enough to explore the gifts and hang out with family.

I did a little bit of consulting, mostly just maintenance. I also did some coding and troubleshooting for my blog. It was a little embarrassing to not have noticed the broken paragraphs for so long, but oh well!

Lots of writing on my phone – the new workflow with Google Tasks seems to be working out well. We’ll see how next month goes!

Blog posts

Sketches

Category Nov Dec Diff h/wk Diff h/wk
Business – Build 0.2 0.7 0.5 1.2 0.8
Discretionary – Play 1.7 2.6 0.9 4.4 1.5
Unpaid work 47.6 43.7 -3.9 75.7 -6.5
Unpaid work – Childcare 37.0 36.3 -0.6 63.0 -1.1
Discretionary – Social 0.3 0.2 -0.1 0.3 -0.2
Discretionary – Family 6.3 2.1 -4.1 3.7 -7.0
Sleep 32.0 35.3 3.4 61.2 5.6
Business – Connect 0.4 0.2 -0.2 0.3 -0.3
Business – Earn 0.6 0.3 -0.3 0.6 -0.5
Discretionary – Productive 2.8 3.1 0.3 5.3 0.5
Personal 8.3 8.1 -0.3 14.0 -0.4

Posting more thoughts

January 9, 2017 - Categories: blogging

I can write on my phone while nursing, which is probably a far better occupation for my mind instead of scrolling through Facebook or Reddit for the nth time. It’s not my ideal writing setup – I can see around a paragraph or two on the screen at a time, and I don’t have the outlining/linking/figuring-out tools I’m used to on my computer – but it gets me writing in full sentences instead of just jotting down lists. I can capture more thoughts this way, and I don’t have to stay up late to get through my drawing backlog.

It’s important to me to be able to flesh out thoughts a little despite the interruptions of life with a baby. With a place to store these half-finished thoughts, I can make some progress. I’m not trying to write a great novel (or that Emacs book I planned a long time ago) – just exploring thoughts and questions and ideas, and storing hooks for associative memories.

A- nurses a lot, which we’re okay with. More sustenance and comfort for her, and our lives are flexible enough to accommodate it. I focus on her when she wants interaction, and I keep my phone handy for when she seems to be nursing to sleep. It’s a practice I could probably help her get out of, but things are also fine the way they are. I’ll probably let her take the lead on this one, at least for now.

What do I want to think about during these moments?

  • For the present: task lists, decisions, questions, research
  • For weekly and monthly reviews: highlights, memories
  • For future Sacha: sketches of daily life, thoughts, things I’m learning
  • For other people: things I figured out the hard way; counter-intuitive or alternative experiences; ideas and thoughts
  • For family and friends: stories

There are lots of things I can think through and write about, even in small chunks and without tools for structure. I’ll experiment with writing about and posting more of them. After all, my blog started with a few years of random snippets and thoughts. I don’t mind spending a few more years writing about mundane things and incomplete thoughts that might not be of much interest to other people, just in case it might be of interest to my future self. I’ve already set up categories and filtered mailing lists, so people can choose what to read. I can write more for myself, and enjoy what serendipitous conversations come my way. :)

2017-01-09 Emacs News

January 10, 2017 - Categories: emacs, emacs-news

Links from reddit.com/r/emacs, /r/orgmode, /r/spacemacs, Hacker News, planet.emacsen.org, Youtube, the changes to the Emacs NEWS file, and emacs-devel.

Past Emacs News round-ups

Reflecting on my process for visual journaling

January 10, 2017 - Categories: drawing

Over several nursing sessions, I flipped through all 750+ of my sketches from 2016 on my phone. It was a quick and wonderful overview of the past year. It’s amazing to see how much ground we’d covered one day at a time.

Taking 5-10 minutes at night to draw a visual journal worked out well. It was my second year with daily/weekly/monthly sketches, and my workflow held up to the demands of caring for a newborn. Some nights I fell asleep before A- let me sneak away, but the text notes I jotted throughout the day helped me reconstruct events even after several nights. I really liked having a record not just of what happened, but also what I was thinking about, and the little moments that would have been hard to capture in a picture. When we were dealing with lots of uncertainty, thinking out loud helped me untangle my thoughts and feel like things were manageable. Looking back over the past year, I think I like the person I was and the person I’ve grown to be.

I didn’t have much time or energy to dress up my sketches or go beyond a simple style. It was nice to see the sketches I spent some time colouring for presentation, though, and the drawing practice I occasionally indulged in. My copies of characters from the books I read to A- reminded me of those stories, and rough sketches of her (mostly sleeping, since that was the only time I could draw from life) made me smile. I think I’d like to make more time for drawing, not just capturing thoughts.

Still, it was so useful to have a tool for making sense of my fragmented thoughts. There was so much to figure out about parenting, time, uncertainty, anxiety, boundaries, philosophy, plans…
I found it easy to go through my sketches and remember what it was like at that point in time. Sometimes I wasn’t sure what a cryptic note on my sketch meant, especially if I didn’t cover it in my weekly review, but that’s okay.

I’m looking forward to continuing this habit in 2017. I’ve been experimenting with jotting down sketch ideas on my phone, so I can move more of the thinking out of my limited computer time. I’d like to make sure I play with more formats than just lists, though, since the nonlinearity of drawing can support thinking in a different way compared to writing. It would be nice to mix in more non-journal sketches, and more actual sketches and drawing exercises too. Maybe a daily cycle, to prompt me to expand…

I still haven’t finished my yearly review, but having all those weekly and monthly sketches sure made the process easier. Onward!

Thinking about my frequency of annual reviews

January 11, 2017 - Categories: blogging

I’ve been doing annual reviews a few times a year: my birthday in August, the new year in January, and experiment-related reflections in February. It’s a little excessive, perhaps. My weekly and monthly reviews make it easy enough to summarize events over 12 months, so it’s not that much more effort to do a new review with a slight offset.

The experiment review has different guide questions, so that’s useful. The birthday and new year reviews have a lot of overlap, though. What happened? How am I different? What did I learn? What did I forget and want to relearn? What worked well? What do I want to focus on next? What could make this even better? The two reviews cover the same ground, especially since I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions. I like the birthday review because it’s anchored on things that are meaningful to me, and paced according to my life.

The new year review would probably be better suited to reflecting on external influences, since that’s synchronized with other people’s reviews, but external events don’t seem to matter that much to me when I reflect on my year.

People often use the Christmas/New Year break to send out family updates and pictures. Both my family and W-‘s family like taking family pictures, so we’re covered there. I feel somewhat odd about the idea of announcing things on behalf of W- or A-, or getting W- to contribute. I’m more comfortable capturing the changes in my own life, noting the occasional highlight from theirs – but with my individual voice, not a collective We. I think of it more for personal note-taking and celebration (and maybe the occasional acquaintance catching up through my archives) rather than pushing updates to a list of people whom I think should hear about our year. Opt-in is more comfortable for me than opt-out. I’m probably making it more complicated than it needs to be, but I wonder if there’s a thought in here that’s worth untangling…

I wonder how I mentally chunk my memories. Do I think of them in terms of ages: my 20s, etc.? Do I think in terms of calendar years? Years come to mind more easily than ages do when I think about milestones such as coming to Canada. So maybe that’s an argument for keeping the new year review…

There’s also the benefit of being able to send people a link to a tidy summary when they wish me a happy new year, although that happens more around birthdays anyway.

Hmm. I guess I’ll try to squeeze another annual review in this month, and then I can reconsider the question in August. More writing is good, anyway.

Weekly review: Week ending January 6, 2017

January 11, 2017 - Categories: review, weekly

It got a lot colder this week, so A- and I mostly stayed indoors. Not a bad time to stay close to home, anyway. W-‘s knee flared up again, so he spent a few days resting and icing it.

We did make a few trips out. We took A- for a routine checkup at the eye clinic in Sick Kids Hospital. Her right eye seems to be developing normally – 20/80 vision based on 7.1 on the Teller acuity test. It turns out that both W- and I have large optic nerves, so that might explain hers too. They gave us a prescription for safety glasses for A- to protect her vision as she becomes more mobile. I’ll probably get her a pair of Miraflex frames once the weather warms up.

A- got a little overtired while waiting at the hospital, but she recovered after a good nap in the afternoon. Between that and the gradual emergence of her first tooth, sleep has been a little irregular, with occasional late-night wakings and lots of nursing in bed. That’s okay, it’s just part of life. I’ve been able to write a lot on my phone, thanks to my new workflow with Google Tasks and Org Mode, so it’s easy enough to make use of all that time in bed.

When she’s not asleep or nursing, A- is curious and active. She clearly enjoys the somersaults that W- guides her through, and often tips her head back to signal that she wants another turn. She’s also getting better at signaling when she doesn’t want any more food. She’s probably trying to figure out how to shake her head for “no”, but at the moment, scrunching her eyes and nodding sharply will do.

I tried following up on some paperwork (T4 and T5 slips, my parents’ visa applications), but the government systems were down for scheduled maintenance. Next week, then. Paid myself dividends and reimbursed my company for my part of split expenses. I also filled my TFSA for the year, hooray!

I also fixed my evil plans Org Mode file so that it worked with the lexical scoping in Org 9. I changed the code that produced my graph to explicitly invoke Org Babel with parameters instead of trying to piggyback on the parameters passed in the original block. I also updated a few of the goals. I broke a few links in the process, but fortunately org-lint helped me quickly identify them.

A- and I video-chatted with my mom and with Kathy, with brief appearances by G* and A*. Also, It was J-‘s birthday, so we celebrated with some tarts that Y- bought.

Odd moment: Neko fell into the shallow bath I’d washed A- in, and had to be rescued by W-. The poor dear.

We reviewed our emergency preparations, moving food past their best-before dates to the pantry and restocking the bags with new snacks. We added diapers, wipes, and baby clothes, too. Good to prepare for winter storms or neighbourhood gas-leak evacuations.

Jen and E- dropped by with more clothes for A-. It was awesome to see E- toddling around. So independent! A- will get there some day.

I made shepherd’s pie for our lunch, and that worked out surprisingly well. W- spent an afternoon making lamb korma – so nice! – and some banchan too. The roast veg recipe from the science of cooking book was yummy, although I’m not sure about the value of using aluminum to steam the veg in the pan instead of washing another pot. Washing is easy enough, anyway.

What a full week! Next week: another conformer for A-, slightly warmer weather, more paperwork, and a return to consulting.

Blog posts

Sketches

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (0.1h – 0%)
    • Earn (0.0h – 0% of Business)
    • Build (0.1h – 100% of Business)
      • ☑ See if I can downscale my Linode
      • ☑ Write the business a personal cheque and deposit it
      • ☑ Pay myself dividends
      • ☐ Issue T4
      • ☐ Issue T5
    • Connect (0.0h – 0% of Business)
  • Relationships (2.1h – 1%)
    • ☑ File photos of borrowed clothes
    • ☑ Follow-up at eye clinic
    • ☑ Follow up on visa
  • Discretionary – Productive (3.7h – 2%)
    • Drawing (2.0h)
      • ☑ Review month
    • Emacs (1.2h)
      • ☐ [#A] Do another Emacs News review
      • ☑ Org effort filtering
      • ☑ Fix evil plans
      • ☑ Help with table issue
    • Coding (0.0h)
    • Sewing (0.0h)
    • Writing (0.1h)
    • ☐ Rebalance CAD to US
    • ☑ Move money to TFSA
  • Discretionary – Play (1.3h – 0%)
  • Personal routines (10.9h – 6%)
  • Unpaid work (80.0h – 47%)
    • Childcare (76.1h – 45% of total)
  • Sleep (69.9h – 41% – average of 10.0 per day)

What do I want from an annual review?

January 12, 2017 - Categories: blogging

I’ve got most of the pieces for an annual review: monthly reviews in visual and text form, my time records, and a recent flip-through of all of my sketches. I’d like to bring my ledger of income and expenses up to date, finish reading all of my blog posts, and draw a couple of yearly summaries (monthly events, differences between 2015 and 2016, analyses). I want to make the most of my computer time, so I should think about what I want from my annual review and how I can get that more efficiently.

Highlights of the year
A month-by-month list of highlights is good for reminding me of events and getting around the fogginess of memory. There’s so much to celebrate and appreciate. This also simplifies longer-term reviews, like the 10-year review I did when I turned 30.
Differences
What did I learn? What did I forget? It can be easier to see the differences when you compare across a longer time period. This can help me solidify growth, revisit things I’ve left behind, watch out for drifting, and choose what to focus on next year.
Patterns and trends
Taking a look at the data can sometimes turn up things I wouldn’t have guessed. Time, finances, and A-‘s data too – so much to explore! This might take a little longer, since it involves code.
Decision review
This is probably better broken up into separate posts, maybe even decoupled from my annual review.
What worked well? Why? How can we make things even better?
Good for continuous improvement. Might not go into as much depth as the decision reviews.

My overall goals are to:

  • remember and celebrate the journey
  • keep improving; remember what I’ve learned and revisit what I might have shelved
  • make it easier for my future self (or other people reading my archive) to get an overview of the year
  • maybe have conversations that grow out of the updates (notes on things I’ve tried, ideas for stuff that might help)

I’ll probably end up doing my annual review in chunks instead of waiting until it’s all done, since otherwise it might take me a few months.

How do I want consulting to fit into my life?

January 13, 2017 - Categories: experiment, work

I do a tiny bit of consulting to help a long-standing client with prototyping and data analysis. It lets them take advantage of the experience I’d built up with their tools and platform, and I get to keep my technical skills and professional network going.

Before we went on our trip, I was averaging about two hours a week, after A-‘s in bed. A- tends to nurse frequently at night, probably to make up for distractions during the day, and we’re okay with this. Sometimes I might be able to do an hour or two of uninterrupted work, and sometimes I clock in and out as I get interrupted by nursing. Fortunately, I built a pretty handy time tracking interface, so it takes only a few taps on my phone.

Because of my limited availability, I try to pick tasks that don’t require a lot of coordination with other people, that can bear with interruptions, and that aren’t risky when done with a fuzzy brain. So, no meetings, no big chunks of new things to learn, and no messing with write access to production data if I can help it. Despite this limited availability, I was able to prototype a few add-ons they wanted, yay!

IA- has been a bit more clingy lately (might be because of teething) so I’m not sure how much time I’ll have in the next little while. I’d like to have the brainspace to learn and build new things so that I can help out my main client, since he has moved up in terms of his role, but that can probably wait. In the meantime, we get decent ROI if I focus on quick answers and prototypes.

t’s important to me to manage expectations well and to turn over as much as I can. This means not committing to more than I can work on, and keeping people up to date on timelines and risks; making sure the team has access to my code and can take things over if they need to; and building in small steps so that I can deliver something of value as soon as possible. It’s fun to break an idea down into the minimum viable product, the intermediate steps to get there, and the incremental enhancements that would make it even better.

I’ve thought about expanding my available work time, but I chose not to. This is the last month and a half of W-‘s parental leave, but I’d rather spend the time enjoying parenting A- with him than squeezing in more computer things. He’s awesome with A- – better than I am. I’ve sometimes asked him to take care of her while I handled high-priority things that needed focused time (such as doing my business tax paperwork!), but I don’t want to commit more of that time than I need to.

At the moment, I’m not particularly keen on getting a babysitter after W- returns to work. I know the math could work out and that the socialization might even be an awesome thing for A-, but I’m curious about the things I might learn from going through this experience myself. I like the fun of problem-solving and the validation of helping a great team, but I can get that later, too. I also don’t quite trust my ability to pick a good person and build the kind of long-term relationship that would be good for A-, so there’s that too. In the meantime, I can learn from A- as she learns, and I can try to shape her world. We’ve got a rare opportunity to do this in a flexible way, and I want to take advantage of that.

So, how do I want consulting to fit into my life? I think the current arrangement is pretty good. I prioritize my self-care, A-, W-, and the general upkeep of the household; then my journal and Emacs News, since both are time-based; then more discretionary things, like consulting or personal coding. The clients seem happy. They’re not slowed down by me or kept hanging, and they get good value considering the time and money involved. I might be able to do more work if A-‘s sleep solidifies, but I’m in no rush. It might be that I’ll have limited work availability until she’s old enough for playdates or school, and that’s fine too.

I’ll think about this again after we settle into new routines, when W-‘s back at work. It’ll be interesting to see how things change.

Feeling better about developmental milestones

January 14, 2017 - Categories: parenting

We’ve been tracking A-‘s progress using the Nipissing developmental milestones and assistance from a nurse and a home visitor through the Healthy Babies Healthy Children program.

Toronto Public Health had referred us to the program when we were concerned about how A- might be affected by multiple congenital abnormalities and their implications – in particular, monocular vision, and multiple exposures to general anesthesia because of all the diagnostics (which some research flagged as associated with a higher risk of learning difficulties).

In some areas in the US, monocular vision automatically qualifies children for early intervention services with therapists who can help with vision exercises or orientation and mobility training. Some parents have found them very helpful, and some have found their kids do fine without therapy. Here, the Canadian National Institute for the Blind assessed A-‘s vision and decided she does not require any services for now. It’s good news, although I feel that I might have to be vigilant so that I can catch potential issues even without having a specialist track her progress.

The Nipissing developmental screens cover general capabilities. I’m not sure what to watch out for in terms of vision, and the caseworkers at CNIB didn’t have any specific resources or tips for monocular vision aside from checking if she’s cutting corners or banging into things.

A- seems to be on track with most of her physical milestones, which is a relief. A- enjoys putting things into containers and taking them out again. If I give her a block, she’ll pass it from her left hand to her right hand, and then she’ll put it in the bin. (We can tidy up quite a lot of Duplo with this process!) And this week, she actually stacked blocks on top of other blocks with a bit of guidance and turn-taking – hooray! She’s still a little quiet and reserved in company, which is totally okay. Now that the holidays are over, I’ll take her to neighbourhood drop-in programs more often so that she can see other kids.

Our home visitor suggested working on language by labeling whatever she’s interested in with single words: “Book!” “Ball!” “Cat!” She also recommended helping A- slowly get used to independent play by letting her take the lead and sitting close by. We’ll try those tips over the next week or so.

Before having A-, I hadn’t spent a lot of time around small kids, so I find the tips and interaction modeling quite helpful. I imagine other people find parenting more intuitive, but I appreciate all the help I can get. I’m glad the City of Toronto has this program with all sorts of pamphlets and activities!

How can we prepare for W-‘s return to work?

January 15, 2017 - Categories: kaizen, life, parenting

The next shift in our household will be when W- returns to work in a little over a month. It’ll be just me and A- most of the day. What will change in our daily routines, and what do we want to do now to make that easier? I’ve been reading Reddit posts to get a sense of what to expect, what kinds of friction points might come up, and what helps. There are some things to watch out for, but I think it’ll be manageable.

  • I won’t be able to pass A- to him during the day. That means we should have leftovers or a quick meal ready for lunch, so I don’t have to try to cook something with A- underfoot. If there’s laundry to fold, we should probably take it upstairs the night before. A- will become more independent over time, so I’ll be able to do more and more things.
  • W- will need work lunches,too. We’ll free up some space in our chest freezer and go back to preparing individual portions. It might be good to prepare most of the week’s food as well, so that dinner is easier.
  • I might have to take A- to her medical appointments by myself. We can meet the cardiologist at North York instead of Scarborough. Going to the Sick Kids Hospital is a bit harder by myself (bringing gear, going to the bathroom, comforting A- when she needs to be sedated for an exam), so we might save W-‘s days off for that, or I can tough it out. We survived long-haul flights, and we can deal with this too.
  • W- can’t easily rescue us if we get sick or need a lift when we’re out and about, but that’s why I have a transportation budget. If necessary, I can call a cab. It probably needs to be a public taxi so that I can carry A- without a car seat – I’m not sure Uber qualifies for that exception.
  • We’ll keep nights flexible so that W- can work if he wants to or hang out with A- if he wants to. He can play with her while I do the evening routines. I’ll let W- decompress from work and settle in before passing her over.
  • I’ll try to get groceries and do other errands in the afternoon so that we can free up evening time. It’ll also be good to take A- to centres for socialization.
  • Weekends will be mostly the same as now, I think: laundry, cooking, cleanup, errands, play, and a bit of hobby time.
  • Many people find it difficult and isolating to go without adult conversation or external validation for long stretches. Based on my experience with hermit mode and with my 5-year experiment, I’ll probably be okay. Writing is a good opportunity to string words together and think about stuff, and I can do that during A-‘s nursing sessions and naps. My blog, my journal, consulting, and the Emacs community help with validation and a sense of accomplishment.
  • I have my own savings and I contribute to the household, so I don’t feel financially dependent. I can even invest for the long term.
  • It’s also good to make sure W- and I stay in sync even if we’re moving in different worlds. Cooking is an obvious touchpoint. Keeping up with tech helps me relate to his stories and interests, and observing A- will probably give me plenty of stories to share. I can use some of my late-night discretionary time to play video games with him, and I can read about woodworking and other DIY pursuits. Duplo would be good to explore, too – we can have fun with the build of the day. If I pay close attention, the minutiae of everyday life is actually quite fascinating, and I can share what I learn.

The next shift after this will probably be when A- starts walking around. I might need to keep a closer eye on her to make sure she doesn’t get into too much trouble, and we might also modify our routines so that she gets lots of practice. As she learns how to ask questions, we’ll add more field trips, too.

Okay. Let’s do this!

Weekly review: Week ending January 13, 2017

January 16, 2017 - Categories: review, weekly

I took A- to be fitted for another conformer, since we lost the previous one after two weeks of it popping out almost every day. Her current one appeared to fit fine while we were at the ocularist, but it’s been popping out a lot too. We have another appointment next week. Maybe we can get a better fit, or maybe we’ll have to consider the trade-offs of putting her under sedation so that a new impression can be taken.

A-‘s two bottom central incisors are both emerging, whee! She’s been having fun gnawing on chicken drumsticks and biscotti. Her sleep has been a little disrupted, but that’s fairly common when teething.

W- bought two lots of Duplo off Kijiji, and now A- has a pretty good Duplo collection. We all have lots of fun playing with the bricks.

We’ve resumed home visits from the Healthy Babies Healthy Children program. We’ve been working on stacking blocks, and A- finally got the hang of it! We also went to the JFRC and the OEYC for some socialization, since it’s good for A- to get used to seeing and interacting with other kids. She’s a little reserved, but that’s okay.

This week and last week had quite the spike in childcare hours, although part of that is probably sloppy tracking. I’ve been focusing on playing more with A- during daytime hours, sometimes away from my phone. Might try tracking other activities like meals and tidying up a bit better this week to get a clearer picture of my time. Also, A-‘s been waking up after an evening nap instead of staying in bed, so that’s been changing up our routine a little.

Lots of good stuff on my end. So much writing! My Google Tasks + org2blog workflow is working really well. I can write while nursing, which is much better than spending all that time going down into the rabbit holes of the Internet. I went from a somewhat monotonous rhythm of Emacs News and journal reviews to a full week of scheduled posts. Unexpected benefit: more blog comment conversations, too!

I’ve been working on my yearly review. I’ve looked at all the sketches, summarized my monthly reviews, and analyzed my expenses. I also want to look at time and write my overall reflections. It’s been a good year.

Going through all those sketches from 2016 reminded me that a little effort can make drawings more expressive and fun, so I’ve been playing with drawing again. I figure that picking one moment and drawing it in more detail in my daily index cards will let me exercise that skill, and it’ll also motivate me to pay attention to or cultivate at least one vivid moment a day.

I did a little bit of consulting, too – tweaked some code and answered a few questions. Also, I filed my corporation’s T4 and T5 tax slips, yay! Keener. Our personal tax returns are probably going to be a little more complicated this year because of W-‘s parental leave and my child benefit, but I’ll figure it out.

I signed up for the PC Plus program and associated it with my old PCFinancial points. We’ll see if it’s worth it, considering we shop at No Frills all the time.

Next week: another trip to the ocularist, more socialization, and maybe some writing and digital decluttering.

Blog posts

Sketches

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (1.8h – 1%)
    • Earn (1.2h – 69% of Business)
      • ☑ Earn: E1: 1-2 hours of consulting
    • Build (0.5h – 25% of Business)
      • ☑ Issue T5
      • ☑ Issue T4
    • Connect (0.1h – 5% of Business)
  • Relationships (0.1h – 0%)
    • ☑ Try another conformer
  • Discretionary – Productive (5.5h – 3%)
    • Drawing (2.5h)
    • Emacs (0.9h)
      • ☑ Do another Emacs News review
    • Writing (1.6h)
  • Discretionary – Play (3.2h – 1%)
  • Personal routines (15.3h – 9%)
  • Unpaid work (83.0h – 49%)
    • Childcare (75.1h – 44% of total)
  • Sleep (59.1h – 35% – average of 8.4 per day)

2017-01-16 Emacs News

January 16, 2017 - Categories: emacs, emacs-news

Links from reddit.com/r/emacs, /r/orgmode, /r/spacemacs, Hacker News, planet.emacsen.org, Youtube, the changes to the Emacs NEWS file, and emacs-devel.

Past Emacs News round-ups

Building A-‘s Duplo collection

January 17, 2017 - Categories: parenting, play

W- and I are keen on Lego. (We actually met while judging a Lego contest for schoolkids.) Open-ended toys, high-quality plastic, what’s there not to like? Naturally, A-‘s going to start with a Duplo collection.

Her first set was the My First Truck one that we’d bought from the Lego store for G* and A*’s birthday present ($20 for 29 bricks, or $0.66 per brick). She liked it so much, we decided to keep that one and get another copy of the same set. (Besides, it’s generally polite not to give people pre-drooled-on gifts…) We kept the set in the kitchen and used it to entertain her whenever we were cooking. She got pretty good at separating the bricks, putting them into the container, and taking them out again.

Since buying second-hand is a great way to save money and Lego stands up well to use, W- checked Kijiji for people selling lots of used Lego. The first batch worked out to be about $0.30 per brick, but it was made up of odds and ends that the previous kid didn’t particularly care for. Some of the assemblies had missing pieces, like the police box that didn’t have all of its windows and doors. There was a roof piece in one style and another roof piece in a different style. Clearly, brick count wasn’t the only thing to go by (or even interesting brick to basic brick ratio)! Still, it got us more wheel bases than we might otherwise have accumulated over several purchases of new sets. We had fun finding out what some of the more mysterious bricks were, thanks to databases built by Lego enthusiasts and the pictures and part numbers that made identification possible. W- even contributed a picture of the red wings from the Cute Animals set.

The second batch W- got from Kijiji worked out a lot better. It was $30 for about 200 bricks, or $0.15 per brick. Well, a little more than that, actually, since we took out a few non-Lego pieces. W- washed the rest in the washing machine (cold water, gentle cycle) and laid them out on towels to dry. This collection was recognizably made up of a number of sets: alphabet blocks; some kind of medieval thing with a horse, a knight, and a treasure chest; a gas station. There’s probably another set in there, too. There were a few pieces missing from the alphabet and there were some other unmatched parts. The seller found some of the missing pieces and W- picked it up, so, yay!

What’s a 10-month-old to do with all that Duplo, anyway? Turns out, quite a lot.

  • She started by investigating shapes, and there are plenty of interesting shapes the collection.
  • She handed us stuff and we exercised our creativity by incorporating those bricks into whatever we were building.
  • She knew how to move wheeled toys back and forth, so she did that too.
  • She pulled bricks apart, and we challenged her by putting bricks together in different configurations.
  • She put bricks into containers, and she took them out again.
  • She opened doors and windows.
  • She opened doors and then put bricks through them.
  • She jumbles them up and enjoys the sound.
  • … and she’s coming up with more stuff to do with them every day. =)

She occasionally tries to connect bricks together, but she doesn’t quite have the coordination for that yet. Someday!

We’ll also eventually teach her how to sort bricks by type, which is good for sanity and easier building. A- puts bricks into whatever container is closest, which is totally fine – I just sort opportunistically.

W- and I also keep ourselves amused by building little things and showing them to each other. He’s good at it, and I’m slowly getting the hang of it. For example, he turned a bunch of curved bricks and a car spoiler into a whale. Much fun.

So, yeah, Duplo! Here we go.

Encouraging physical activity

January 18, 2017 - Categories: parenting

More physical activity would be good for all of us, especially A-. If she burns more energy, she’ll eat more, which means taking in more nutrients and broadening her tastes. She’ll build muscles and improve coordination, and she might even develop good habits. As for me, I want to be able to keep up with her and W-, and I want to improve my own health.

The more time she spends crawling, the better. When I take her to the Junction Family Resource Centre, the toys around the room give her reasons to crawl and explore. Bonus points for socialization and independent play, too. At home, she enjoys crawling after me when we play hide-and-seek, so I’ll make that part of our bedtime routine (and maybe our morning routine as well). We have floor beds in her room, so that lets her practice climbing up and down as well.

When she starts walking, she’ll have even more opportunities to be active. We can toddle around the house and in the neighbourhood centres. We’ll figure out how to walk around outside, too – the backyard, the sidewalk, the park, the playground. She can carry, push, and pull things to develop her arm strength.

Her microphthalmia means that she can’t use stereopsis for depth perception and she has to rely on other cues, so she may be a little more hesitant or clumsy. Because she wears a conformer, we’ll also need to periodically check if it’s still in her eye, search for it if it has fallen out, and plan for replacements due to growth or loss. None of these things should stop her from enjoying an active childhood, though.

Kids like imitating, so we can model that by being active ourselves. W- is great in that regard, and I’m working on it as well. I like walking, so she’ll get a lot of exposure to that. W- has been building a habit of daily stretches and I’d like to do that too. When that’s solid, I can add stuff for building strength and endurance. I’ve been enjoying babywearing as a form of exercise, too. Fortunately, A-‘s been growing gradually enough for me to keep up with her.

I’ve been thinking about classes and community resources that could be helpful. Since she likes somersaults so much, it might be nice to take her to toddler gymnastics. There’s a place within walking distance that has classes for babies who are at least 9 months old, so we’ll observe a session and think about signing up for the next course. It’s nice to have a well-padded place to practice tumbling and falling. There are also a number of well-equipped playgrounds close by, which will be good when she’s a little older.

There’ll also be time for her to work on other capabilities, like fine motor skills. Opportunities to do so tend to be abundant, so we’ll make more of a conscious effort to encourage gross motor skill development. We’ll go with what she’s interested in, and we’ll help influence her interests too.

Getting coding back into my life

January 19, 2017 - Categories: development, geek, life

Now that I have a decent workflow for writing, coding would be the next good thing to reintegrate into my life.

I get about an hour or two of discretionary time a day, late at night once A-‘s asleep. It’s not a solid chunk, since A- often wants to nurse, but I can usually get back to what I was doing without losing too much context. Sometimes A- takes a while to settle down, or wakes up midway. Sometimes I’m too sleepy to do much after A- goes to sleep. Still, I usually get a little time to update my journal, do some consulting, or even play video games with my husband.

How does coding fit into the picture? It’s fun. I learn stuff. Sometimes I even build tools that make my life a little easier. It gives me non-baby things to talk about with W- and other people, too.

The time needs to come from somewhere. What are the trade-offs I might make?

  • Fewer drawings of non-journal thoughts, balanced by more writing time on phone. Can I figure out a good workflow for drawing on my phone? Not index cards, but maybe I can move my drawing practice to my phone for extra skill-building and mental variety.
  • Less consulting, but more personal benefits to code; might also use this to expand my comfortable range for consulting
  • Real-life kaizen vs virtual kaizen: shift by doing real-life kaizen while A- is awake
  • Other tasks: still do as needed

What could a good setup be like?

  • I spend some reading time going through documentation, Q&A, research, etc. This helps me improve my skills and work more efficiently.
  • I have a dev environment set up for risk-free experimentation.
  • I have a to-do list with prioritized ideas and notes.
  • I work on tasks that might be 15-30m in size, ideally with tests.

I think it’ll be worth learning how to properly set things up with Vagrant. Frequent rebuilds will force me to make sure all my dev environment assumptions are documented.

It’ll also be worth cleaning up my technical notes and writing more things down, so I can get back up to speed after months or even years away.

Then I’ll want to sort out my testing environment and get back to writing tests. I wonder if I can set things up so that I can even write tests on my phone. Maybe cucumber cases? It’ll be easier to write behaviour-driven tests than regular tests, since I don’t have to mess with punctuation.

Then I can code, one small chunk at a time. Maybe I can even write pseudo code on my phone.

I’d also like to get back to tweaking my environment and tools, since that pays off multiple ways for me: enjoyment, learning, efficiency, and notes to share.

I can start by sorting out my dev environment and notes. We’ll see how that goes, or if this is something that will be mostly on the back burner until A- grows a little more. =)

What do I want to think through when writing on my phone?

January 20, 2017 - Categories: kaizen, writing

My first priority is to get thoughts out of my head and into a form I can work with. This often becomes an explosion of lists and keywords, which can be handy for thinking and drawing, but not for my blog posts. It helps me clear my mind and be less distracted. It lets me make progress instead of covering the same ground. It also helps me make better decisions. I can see the costs and benefits more clearly when they’re written down. I can brainstorm options and compare them. I can review the decisions afterwards, too.

Prose makes things slower to capture and harder to read on my phone, but also a little easier to search or reflect on after a while, and possibly good for review or conversation when turned into a blog post.

And then there’s stuff I’d flesh out in writing anyway, like my weekly/monthly/yearly reviews. Those start off as sketches on my computer, then lists of keywords, and then paragraphs on my phone.

If my list is cluttered, it’s hard to pick one thought and follow it through. I end up adding little bits here and there, and I’m not sure how useful that is. Things below a couple of screens get ignored. It might be helpful to dedicate some time to processing. I can either flesh out the top idea on the stack, or move it to my inbox if it needs computer time.

I don’t have to worry too much about writing for other people’s benefit. That can come later, when I have more focused time. People can always choose what to read and what to skim or skip. What’s important is that I think things through and then capture them for later review.

So, how can I do this more effectively? Where are my gaps?

  • Motivating questions, not just a scratchpad of ideas: It’s useful to ask questions when I’m going to change something based on the answer. For example, I can describe the gaps and points of friction, then explore why those are so, and then come up with ideas and actions.
  • Reviews are less motivating, but I can get the ball rolling by focusing on tidbits rather than overviews. It’s hard to see context on a small screen.
  • I don’t have to spend a lot of time picking the best thing to write about. Practically everything will move me forward, even if the distances vary. I can write and write and write, and then reflect.
  • If I don’t feel like writing, I can always snuggle or sleep. No need to force it.

The best time to write is when I’m nursing A- and she’s drifting off to sleep, but is awake enough to root if I try to move away. Trade-offs / other things I could be doing during that time:

  • Sleeping: Good up to a certain point. It’s handy to use A-‘s first nap to catch up on sleep if needed, but I don’t want to sleep too much.
  • Browsing social media: Tempting time sink. Occasionally useful or interesting, but best in small doses.
  • Answering email: Nice thing to do, although expectations are low. Some things can only be answered when I’m at my computer.
  • Prioritizing my to-do list and adding items to it: Helps me hit the ground running during computer time.
  • Reading research and tech stuff: Gives me ideas to explore when I’m at my computer. Less efficient than reading when I’m on my laptop, but it’s okay to just index things for later exploration.
  • Reading e-books: sometimes useful, especially if I pick my questions and titles carefully.
  • Reading fiction: occasionally entertaining, although often bleh. Maybe I should try library recommendations.
  • Playing games: my interest comes and goes. Exercises problem-solving. Artificial sense of progress.

I think it makes sense to prioritize sleep, then writing, with maybe a notification-based pomodoro for social media during breaks. If I don’t feel like writing, I can use the time to learn more about tech or parenting. Let’s see if I can find a pomodoro app that’s compatible with a sleeping baby, or if I can make something using Tasker…

When both W- and I can play with A-

January 21, 2017 - Categories: parenting

Sometimes I try to get things done while W- plays with A-. I feel good about taking care of household chores or urgent and important tasks, but I feel weird about discretionary things like updating my journal or working on my computer. Even if I just hang out while they play in the same room, that feels more comfortable than taking advantage of the opportunity for focused time. I wonder why that’s the case, and if I need to tweak my perspective.

My priorities tend to go like this: if W- wants to spend time with A-, I’ll take care of household chores like cooking and cleaning. When that’s done, we’ll play together, unless there’s a big and important task taking up brainspace. If so, I’ll try to get that done before returning to play.

It’s useful to have some shared play time. I pick up ideas from the way W- and A- interact, and it’s a good time for us to reconnect. Sometimes we come up with new games when we’re all together. A- also sees us interact with each other, which is good.

It’s also useful for W- to have some one-on-one time with A-, and for me to have some discretionary time. I’d feel more comfortable about taking that discretionary time if I had a clear purpose for it, like an hour or two of consulting, or some business paperwork – especially things where I need to be focused and awake. If it’s something I can do just as well when A-‘s asleep, even with the interruptions, I often prefer to postpone it until then.

There aren’t a lot of tasks that I feel I need to do right away. Most things can be done when the opportunity arises, whether that’s when A- finally sleeps soundly enough for me to unlatch her and leave, or when she eventually goes to school. On the other hand, there’s a definite time bound on this shared playtime with W-, and even for solo playtime with A-. There are only so many hours I’ll get to enjoy like this. I think that might be one of the reasons why I prioritize spending time with them.

How can I make even better use of shared time with W- and A-? I want A- to focus on W-, so I support their play instead of competing for attention. Cameras distract her attention and disrupt the flow, so I’ll just have to settle for observing so that I can draw and tell stories later.

A- will eventually become more independent, especially when she reduces her nursing frequency. Then she and W- can establish father-daughter bonding time and their own rituals – maybe at least two hours a week, based on the guidelines I came across. I can save my daytime discretionary tasks for then. We’ll also have some shared family time, and a few chunks of discretionary time for W- so that he can explore hobbies such as woodworking.

This time is short, and it passes quickly. I’ve had plenty of practice examining that little urge to Get Things Done and deciding whether it actually makes sense. For now, I’ve got this rare opportunity to prioritize play.

More thoughts on the timing of discretionary time

January 22, 2017 - Categories: parenting, time

W- is thinking of shifting his discretionary time for side projects to early morning, before he heads out to work. That way, he can tackle it with more energy and enjoy making steady progress. I’ve been planning for my discretionary time in the evening, after A- goes to bed. It might be nice to experiment with setting an early alarm and staying in sync with W-. I’ve tried one-offs here and there and A- generally ended up waking along with me, so I didn’t get time for other things. If I do it consistently, though, she’ll probably shift her bedtime earlier.

The main thing that gets shifted around on my end is the journal, since that’s natural to do at the end of the day. The quick notes I take on my phone will probably be enough, though. Alternatively, I could split it up: sleep after my journal, and then wake up and so other things.

So, how can I ease into this? If I prioritize sleeping during her naps for a couple of days, that should make it easier to wake up early. A- will adjust her own naps based on her energy. This is a good time to try it, anyway – no major appointments coming up, so we can adjust as needed. I think W- wanted to start being up by 5 or even earlier. Bonus: electricity is cheaper.

We’ll see if A-‘s okay with my slipping away early in the morning. If not, maybe I’ll find my discretionary time somewhere else in the day. No worries! I’d like at least enough time for my journal and for Emacs News, so that’s about half an hour to an hour. Interruptible and can be deferred a day or two, so the time is pretty easy to find. Most of the other things can wait if need. The next big chunk is probably filing our personal taxes some time in March or April, but I should be able to find enough focused time in that period. Who knows, maybe A-‘s sleep patterns will have changed by then. We’ll see!

2017-01-23 Emacs News

January 24, 2017 - Categories: emacs, emacs-news

Links from reddit.com/r/emacs, /r/orgmode, /r/spacemacs, Hacker News, planet.emacsen.org, Youtube, the changes to the Emacs NEWS file, and emacs-devel.

Past Emacs News round-ups

Weekly review: Week ending January 20, 2017

January 24, 2017 - Categories: review, weekly

The ocularist is trying a different style of conformer. It has a ridge and a curve to catch her lower eyelid. The new conformer has been coming out a little less frequently, but it’s still every day or so. I try to keep A-‘s hands away from her face, although sometimes she really insists on rubbing and scratching when she’s sleepy or just waking up. I also took A- to the eyeglasses store to try on pairs. She’s in between sizes in the Miraflex line, so we’ll try again in a few months.

I took A- to the JFRC and the OEYC for socialization. She’s back to being comfortable in those spaces, I think. I also took her to the breastfeeding clinic to check her weight. 7.84kg puts her comfortably over the 15th percentile curve, yay her!

Since A- has been so interested in our forks and spoons, we got her a fork, which she enthusiastically mashes into her saucer and manoeuvres into her mouth. Sometimes she even manages to pick up food with it. We also got her a toothbrush and a hairbrush. She seems to enjoy using the toothbrush after meals. We haven’t added any baby toothpaste yet – it’s more for getting her used to stuff in her mouth. I brush her hair after brushing mine. Sometimes she tries to imitate me, and sometimes she just plays with the brush when it’s her turn. She’ll get the hang of it eventually.

We’ve been encouraging more physical activity as a way of helping her build up her appetite and take in more nutrients. This usually takes the form of hide-and-seek, which gets her crawling after us at a decent clip. She’s also been working on fine motor control: stuffing Duplo into various containers (including sleepers and pant cuffs), emptying and filling the toy egg carton, and playing with books. She was a little interested in the crayons brought by the family home visitor, although she doesn’t seem to deliberately make marks yet. Anyway, since we want to model what to do with them, I’ve been able to sketch a little – mostly the back of her head while she plays with W-.

I’ve been drawing more on my tablet PC, too. This little experiment of drawing a memory in more detail and colour is helping me observe more carefully, and it’s fun. We’ll see if it’s worth the additional 10-15 minutes or so.

I did a little bit of consulting – a couple of SQL queries and a little Node script to analyze a thread. Thought about a bigger project, too, but I’m not sure I have the brainspace to build something custom for them.

I’ve been working on moving more things off Windows so that I can stay in Linux more often. After looking into alternatives to TurboTax for my corporate income tax returns, I decided to convert my QuickBooks records to Ledger. I’ve been using Ledger for my personal finances for more than a decade, and I like how manageable plain text is, especially with report command lines and commentary in Org Mode. I found a Perl script to convert QuickBooks data to Ledger format. After modifying it to deal with Canadian spelling, I converted my data and started reviewing it. So far, so good. My bank balances match up, at least. There are a bunch of other things I want to pay close attention to (year-end entries and so on), but overall, it looks promising.

I also cleared out the tablet I was using as a baby monitor, replacing it with W-‘s old phone. That works just as fine as a baby monitor, and it works out better than the tablet did as a backup device for when my phone’s battery runs out. The phone is easier to hold and type on, and it’s less glaring. More writing, yay!

While I’ve been taking care of A- and writing while nursing, W- has totally taken over cooking for dinner, which is awesome. Pad thai, pasta, shepherd’s pie (with ground lamb, even) – yum yum yum. Life is good.

Blog posts

Sketches

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (3.9h – 2%)
    • Earn (1.9h – 48% of Business)
      • ☑ Thread analysis
      • ☐ Earn: E1: 1-2 hours of consulting
    • Build (1.2h – 30% of Business)
    • Connect (0.8h – 21% of Business)
  • Relationships (0.1h – 0%)
    • ☑ Print prescription for A-
    • ☑ Try another conformer
  • Discretionary – Productive (4.3h – 2%)
    • Drawing (3.5h)
    • Emacs (0.4h)
    • Writing (0.1h)
  • Discretionary – Play (1.8h – 1%)
  • Personal routines (21.6h – 12%)
  • Unpaid work (73.2h – 43%)
    • Childcare (63.6h – 37% of total)
  • Sleep (63.1h – 37% – average of 9.0 per day)

2017-01-30 Emacs News

January 30, 2017 - Categories: emacs, emacs-news

I shuffled the sections around a bit to emphasize Emacs Lisp and Emacs development, based on John Wiegley’s suggestion. Enjoy!

Links from reddit.com/r/emacs, /r/orgmode, /r/spacemacs, Hacker News, planet.emacsen.org, Youtube, the changes to the Emacs NEWS file, and emacs-devel.

Past Emacs News round-ups

Weekly review: Week ending January 27, 2017

January 31, 2017 - Categories: review, weekly

I took A- to the ocularist to check the fit of her conformer, since she’s been rubbing it out pretty much every day (sometimes even twice). The ocularist thinks it fits fine and wanted to start working towards a painted shell. We’re more comfortable with conformers, though, because of the risk of losing her prosthesis and because it sometimes prompts useful conversations. We’ll revisit painted shells when she’s ready for school, or if the white conformer bothers her.

I flipped through the book “A Singular View” while at the ocularist’s office. There’s a useful chapter on practical adaptations for pouring and other tasks that are a little harder with monocular vision. The book’s pretty short, though, so it might be something I’ll review there whenever we go for a checkup instead of buying a copy myself.

A- is getting better at communicating. She lets us know when she doesn’t want any more food by closing her eyes and shaking her head (a little randomly, but we get her message). She often insists on feeding us any food left on her plate. She gestures at pictures in books. One time, she even handed W- a paper diaper and flopped onto the bed – probably telling us to get on with the bedtime routine.

She was freaked out by the blood pressure cuff that J- was measuring me with as practice for J-‘s nursing exam. W- and I reassured her that everything was okay, although she still shouted at it when J- removed it from my arm. So much courage.

W- kept A- occupied while I went for my own eye exam. I hadn’t had my eyes checked in years, so I figured it would be good to update my prescription before ordering a bunch of glasses online. A- had broken one pair of glasses and scratched a lens in another pair, so I’m wearing my backup backup pair. Gotta be firmer about keeping A- away from my glasses!

Managed to squeeze in a little computer work. I dusted off and improved the first part of an A/B testing prototype for my consulting client. I also did some more work on using Ledger for my business books so that I can get a tax-line summary. I even set up a Ledger file for the investments in A-‘s college fund. Whee!

The world’s getting a bit crazy, but I remain optimistic.

Blog posts

Sketches

Focus areas and time review

  • Business (3.2h – 1%)
    • Earn (1.7h – 51% of Business)
      • ☐ [#A] Prepare invoice
      • ☑ Earn: E1: 1-2 hours of consulting
    • Build (1.5h – 46% of Business)
      • ☑ Get bank balance to agree
      • ☑ Do GIFI mapping
    • Connect (0.1h – 1% of Business)
  • Relationships (2.5h – 1%)
  • Discretionary – Productive (3.4h – 2%)
    • Drawing (2.5h)
    • Emacs (0.7h)
    • Coding (0.1h)
      • ☑ sleep/wake toggle
  • Discretionary – Play (3.5h – 2%)
  • Personal routines (16.7h – 9%)
  • Unpaid work (76.9h – 45%)
    • Childcare (70.9h – 42% of total)
  • Sleep (61.8h – 36% – average of 8.8 per day)