Category Archives: review

Monthly review: August 2015

I celebrated my 32nd birthday with a quiet day at home and a leisurely review of the past year. It’s mind-boggling how each little step adds up to something more. I’m glad to have built this habit of daily notes, weekly reviews, monthly summaries, and yearly recaps.

It’s not always about small steps, of course. This month was a big one in terms of house projects. Tiling the laundry and bathroom in the basement took most of our time and energy. W- did all the heavy lifting and grinding, and I helped with whatever I could. It was fun getting the basement in order. While that was going on, we washed our clothes at the laundromat – my first time in at least eight years, I think!

Borderlands 2 has become one of our favourite ways to relax. We finished the second playthrough (True Vault Hunter Mode) and we haven’t bought any of the downloadable content yet, so we’re mostly just practising skills and collecting loot. Borderlands 1 is also in our queue, thanks to J-‘s birthday gift for W-. The interface is a bit different, so it might take us a while to get around to it.

Oh, and the Emacs Conference on August 29 was totally awesome! More about that later, once I sort out the videos. The scheduled talks and the impromptu talks were fantastic. I loved being able to watch and participate in it remotely. I’m looking forward to this becoming a yearly thing.

I’ve been thinking about getting back into sewing. I’ve started researching patterns and picking up fabric so that I can ease my way in with simple projects. So far, so good.

August was still pretty blah with the occasional low point, but now I know that I should carry around earplugs in case I get overstimulated by a noisy environment (if I can’t just simply leave it). The bleahs seem to be retreating, so maybe next month will be even better.

Still, it was a good month. Lots of stuff done, lots of stuff prepared for even more doing, and lots of thoughts and little moments. Let’s see how September turns out!

2015-09-03d August 2015 -- index card #monthly #review output

Blog posts


Category Last month % This month % Avg h per week Delta (h/wk)
Discretionary – Family 2.6 8.7 15 10.2
Discretionary – Productive 3.4 8.6 14 8.7
Sleep 36.9 40.1 67 5.4
Discretionary – Social 0.0 0.0 0 0.0
Business – Connect 1.1 0.4 1 -1.2
Personal 15.6 14.8 25 -1.3
Business – Build 3.9 1.8 3 -3.5
Unpaid work 4.8 2.6 4 -3.7
Business – Earn 9.2 5.2 9 -6.7
Discretionary – Play 22.4 17.8 30 -7.7

Weekly review: Week ending August 28, 2015

Hypothesis: Time slept is positively correlated with feelings of accomplishment, instead of being negatively correlated as I might expect. When I think I’ve done a lot, I’m often surprised to find I slept quite a fair bit, too. (Conversely: when I’m surprised by how much the review tells me I’ve done, oddly, I’m usually also surprised by how average my sleep has been.)

Well, this week was a special case: more physical activity than usual, thanks to tiling, and lots of social interaction as well. So yeah, more sleep makes total sense.

Hmm. A fun way to test this hypothesis is to do the sorts of things that make me feel accomplished and awesome, and sleep as I need or want to. It’s not a rigorous test, but it’s hard to see a downside to this plan. =) Maybe they’re not really correlated at all, and it’s just my brain trying to see patterns.

2015-09-03a Week ending 2015-08-28 -- index card #journal #weekly output

Blog posts


Focus areas and time review

  • Business (11.3h – 6%)
    • Earn (9.9h – 87% of Business)
      • Prepare invoice
      • Earn: E1: 1-2 days of consulting
    • Build (1.4h – 12% of Business)
      • Drawing (1.4h)
      • Paperwork (0.0h)
    • Connect (0.0h – 0% of Business)
  • Relationships (19.0h – 11%)
  • Discretionary – Productive (15.3h – 9%)
    • Emacs (4.6h – 2% of all)
    • Writing (0.0h)
  • Discretionary – Play (20.2h – 12%)
  • Personal routines (28.2h – 16%)
  • Unpaid work (5.0h – 2%)
  • Sleep (69.0h – 41% – average of 9.9 per day)

Weekly review: Week ending August 21, 2015

Hardly any writing or drawing this week (beyond my now-usual daily notes). I still feel good about the week, though. I got lots of things done despite extra bleahness. W- has been helping me work on that part. =)

More consulting this week, since my clients asked me to help train a promising intern. I think he would be a great successor. Mwahaha.

2015-08-27b Week ending 2015-08-21 -- index card #journal #weekly output

Blog posts


Focus areas and time review

  • Business (20.3h – 12%)
    • Earn (15.5h – 76% of Business)
      • Earn: E1: 1-2 days of consulting
    • Build (2.2h – 10% of Business)
      • Drawing (2.2h)
      • Paperwork (0.0h)
    • Connect (2.6h – 12% of Business)
  • Relationships (11.5h – 6%)
  • Discretionary – Productive (9.0h – 5%)
    • Emacs (0.0h – 0% of all)
    • Plan tile floor
    • Writing (0.5h)
  • Discretionary – Play (32.7h – 19%)
  • Personal routines (23.8h – 14%)
  • Unpaid work (5.5h – 3%)
  • Sleep (65.3h – 38% – average of 9.3 per day)

Weekly review: Week ending August 14, 2015

My birthday was last week. I had fun reviewing the past year. So much has happened, and I’ve learned a lot: new skills, deeper interests, and so on. Yay!

I’ve been dealing with a lot of bleahs. W- has taken over cooking and has been wonderfully supportive. With any luck, I should be out of this phase soon.

Still have a hard time with focused thinking, but fortunately, the programming I do for my consulting clients isn’t blocked like that. When I find it difficult to write, I fill my mind with reading instead. I’ve been going through a lot of nonfiction books and science fiction novels from the library, and I’ve started picking up Latin again.

I’ve been playing around with doodling a bit more. It’s fun sketching a few random curves and seeing where my imagination goes, or gradually shaping a drawing into something that resonates with me.

W- and I finished True Vault Hunter Mode (TVHM) in Borderlands 2, hooray! Now we’re going through side missions and occasionally farming loot. I often join him for a few hours of gaming in the evening. Good for in-jokes and shared experiences.

Next week: small steps…

2015-08-19a Week ending 2015-08-14 -- index card #journal #weekly


Blog posts


Link round-up

  • Business (9.9h – 5%)
    • Earn (4.4h – 44% of Business)
      • Earn: E1: 1-2 days of consulting
    • Build (5.5h – 55% of Business)
      • Drawing (5.5h)
      • Paperwork (0.0h)
    • Connect (0.0h – 0% of Business)
  • Relationships (9.0h – 5%)
  • Discretionary – Productive (8.6h – 5%)
    • Emacs (1.7h – 0% of all)
    • Writing (2.1h)
  • Discretionary – Play (42.6h – 25%)
  • Personal routines (28.7h – 17%)
  • Unpaid work (1.0h – 0%)
  • Sleep (68.1h – 40% – average of 9.7 per day)

Life as a 31-year-old

I used to host get-togethers as a way of thanking friends, catching up with folks, and seeing what interesting conversations come out of mixing people together. I was always stressed out right up to when people started arriving and mingling, though. It turns out that it’s totally all right to celebrate one’s birthday however you want. For W- and me, quiet days at home win out over noisy celebrations. =) Besides, I’m still in hermit mode these days.

I like looking back at the past year. I’m always surprised by the things that managed to fit in a single year. Was that memory really that recent? Has it really been that long since that other memory? Here are a few of those highlights for me:

2015-08-11b Life as a 31-year-old -- index card #review #yearly

  • Business
    • Helping my client through a major upgrade
    • Enjoying an intense and wonderful sprint of prototyping for a high-profile event
    • Having fun at an internal hackathon
    • Improving my skills: Javascript, SQL (SQL Server and PostgreSQL), Tableau
    • Filing quick method HST on my own
    • Managing my own health plan
  • Connecting
    • Hacklab’s move from Kensington Market to Queen Street West – kitting out the kitchen so that it’s a pleasure to cook in, and spending hours cooking at open houses
    • Spending more time at Hacklab
    • Talking about talking
    • Becoming closer to friends and talking about deeper topics
    • Figuring out the space I need, too
  • Hobbies and interests
    • Picking up sewing again
    • Combining sewing with laser cutting, whee: post
    • Reading lots of science fiction
    • Reflecting on philosophy, leisure, applying Stoicism, and so on
    • Digging into coding and visualizations, especially for my future self
    • Helping the Emacs community through hangouts and posts
  • Family and life
    • Working on projects around the house and other things
    • Reaching personal milestones (10 years in Canada, among other things)
    • Becoming a Canadian citizen (no longer worrying about getting stuck on the wrong side of a border!)
    • Making my peace with fuzzy brain and other things

There’s been a lot of wrapping things up this year, closing long-running open loops. It feels good to reap the benefits of things planned and started by long-ago selves. I wonder what I can prepare for my future self. I think philosophy and reading will be handy, and maybe the skills and tools I build. Who knows, maybe sewing will be useful too. We’ll see!

Last year, I wrote that when I do my “Life as a 31-year-old” review, I’d like to be able to say that:

  • I have excellent health-related habits: I enjoyed the biking while it lasted. For now, this is temporarily limited to walking. Oh well!
  • Our home life is wonderful: So much for yummy food, but yay for projects, decluttering, simple lives, great relationships, and so on.
  • I helped my consulting client make successful transitions: Yup!
  • I’ve broadened my business a little bit more. I’ve made it smaller, actually, but I’m happy with the outcome and with my reasons for doing so.

Here are some other differences:

  • Compared to 30-year-old me, I’ve been both a lot more social (November to April or so) and a lot less social (these past few months). Hermit mode is surprisingly comfortable.
  • I’ve dialed consulting back to one day a week, although I’ve also worked more intensely when needed. My current life is very relaxed and laid-back.
  • Enough of a stock market downturn to make it onto my radar. Still not panicking, though, which is a good sign. Seems to be recovering. I’m in it for the long haul, anyway.
  • I really like this practice of drawing digital index cards to record my day and build up thoughts. They’re more granular and manageable than the 8.5×11″ sheets I used to draw.
  • I used to draw with more colours. I’ve been mostly black-and-white these days, but I think I’ll get back to colours when I start feeling more playful about thinking.
  • I learned how to play first-person shooter games. They’re actually quite fun. W- and I have been playing Borderlands 2.
  • I’m more comfortable with fuzziness and uncertainty and experimentation (yay philosophy), which could be good for growing older and taking on more challenges. Life so far is already enough, and anything more than this is a bonus. I wonder: what’s beyond getting things done?
  • I’ve gotten to the point of being able to wear something I made every day, if I want to. I don’t always do so, but I like having the option. It was surprisingly easy and a good opportunity to geek out more. =)

A snapshot of everyday life, so that I can remember what it was like at this time:

I’m home most of the time, although sometimes I go for a walk to the supermarket or the library. It’s a little frustrating feeling fuzzy or bleah, but at the same time, it’s good philosophy practice. It’s hard to write, but if I keep collecting fragments of thoughts, I know they’ll add up. Voluntary discomfort, momentary annoyances, and all that. With any luck, I’ll probably shift out of hermit mode sometime over the next few weeks. In the meantime, W- and I play Borderlands 2 in the evening. It’s fun coordinating our attacks and swapping loot.

The blueberries and the strawberries in our garden have been extra-yummy this summer. Yay! The drip irrigation system that W- and I put in has been paying off, too. The garden’s a lot more lively now than it was last year.

I have no idea what next year will be like, but I look forward to handling it with equanimity.

If you’re curious, here are some other yearly reviews I’ve written (both birthday-related and calendar-related). It’s fun having an archive. =)

Weekly review: Week ending August 7, 2015

This week was a very bleah week, but I pulled through with help from W-. On the plus side, I got a bit of writing done. Still very bleah, though. Lots of sleep.

2015-08-11a Week ending 2015-08-07 -- index card #journal #weekly output

Blog posts


Focus areas and time review

  • Business (11.8h – 7%)
    • Earn (8.7h – 73% of Business)
      • Earn: E1: 1-2 days of consulting
      • Prepare invoice
    • Build (2.7h – 22% of Business)
      • Drawing (2.7h)
      • Paperwork (0.0h)
    • Connect (0.4h – 3% of Business)
  • Relationships (12.7h – 7%)
  • Discretionary – Productive (12.8h – 7%)
    • Emacs (0.0h – 0% of all)
    • Writing (7.8h)
  • Discretionary – Play (36.9h – 21%)
  • Personal routines (19.7h – 11%)
  • Unpaid work (6.4h – 3%)
  • Sleep (67.6h – 40% – average of 9.7 per day)