Oops, forgot my library card

One of the nice things about minor oopses is that they let you see all sorts of little experiments to try. =)

It took me a little over 4,400 steps to reach the Jane/Dundas library, where I found two of the new videos I’d been looking forward to borrowing (too new to request through the system, so you have to catch them at your library branch). As I went to check them out, I realized I had left my belt bag at home. I’d been using my belt bag as a purse organizer, actually, tucking the bag into whichever tote I was going to use for a walk. This time, however, I’d remembered to add two folded-up tote bags, a water bottle, my e-reader, and my keys to my main bag, but I forgot the belt bag on the kitchen table. I’d forgotten to do my usual pre-flight verbal checklist, so I hadn’t caught the error as I headed out the door. So there I was at the library: no library card, no other forms of identification, nothing. No point in going to the grocery store without cash or a credit card, either. Oh well!

Still, it turns out that a walk passes by pretty quickly when there’s something I can read. The e-reader works out well for this because I can page through it with gloves on. Better than my smartphone, which is finicky even with touchscreen gloves. Better than a paper book, even, since the pages can be hard to turn with gloves on. Four winters after I bought my Kindle, I’ve finally found its niche, so there’s that.

I rarely forget my cards like this. It’s been more than a year since the last time, I think. Maybe even two or three. No big deal. =) There’s always another walk, another opportunity to get some exercise. In the meantime, there are lots of small changes I can play with if I think this situation might come up more often. I could:

  • Keep an extra copy of the barcode on my library card: I could photocopy a set of cards and keep that copy in my winter hat (along with a little bit of cash), since I usually wear that when I go for a day-time walk.
  • Keep the belt bag in my favourite canvas bag.
  • Switch to my vest of many pockets, since leaving that behind is slightly more obvious than leaving behind a small belt bag. The extra layer might be more comfortable in winter, too.
  • Strengthen the practice of doing a verbal pre-flight checklist as I head out the door.

There and back was an hour and a half of walking at the leisurely pace of about 3.5km/h. Although there were some points when I might have liked to have thicker gloves, it was pleasant enough without strong winds and with only a slight scattering of snow. I might go for another long walk tomorrow, perhaps to a different library. The walk fits my life nicely, and it feels good to move a bit.

It’s nice to have the buffer of time so that I don’t have to worry about little mistakes, and it’s nice to live in such a walkable neighbourhood that oopses like these still give me the benefit of exercise. =)

Thinking about grocery stores and recipe variety

The Asian grocery store near us has closed, so we’ll need to find a different source for things that our neighbourhood No Frills supermarket doesn’t carry: pork bellies for lechon liempo, bitter melons and salted black beans for stir-fries, tapioca pearls for bubble tea.

It’s mostly W-‘s thing, actually. I tend to make meals based on whatever I can easily get from No Frills instead of craving particular tastes enough to pick up special ingredients. I think it’s because I’m already satisfied with the variety we have. It’s a little easier that way, too, since I tend to pick up groceries on foot. If I want to make something that requires a trip to a different grocery store, that usually involves a sunk cost of $2.90 or $5.80, or some coordination with W-. I could probably benefit from doing a more detailed price comparison, possibly shifting some of our regular purchases instead of going to Chinatown or PAT Mart only for the kinds of things that No Frills doesn’t stock. I tend to make frequent, small trips to the grocery store as part of getting some exercise and in order to minimize wasted food. Even if soy milk and some vegetables are cheaper in Chinatown, in a small batch, the difference probably doesn’t warrant the transit fare, time, and the effort of lugging those groceries home. Maybe if I feel like long walks in better weather, or if I get one of those grocery carts again… Well, the additional cost of transit isn’t that much, but I guess I tend not to see much marginal value considering the extra time and effort.

Still, the lovely, crispy roast pork belly that W- makes (along the lines of this salt crust roast pork belly, I think) is a nice treat. He’s discerning about the particular cut of meat (even thickness = easier to roast), so he prefers to pick it out personally. We eat it in small quantities since it’s so rich. It’s a good excuse to have lots of vegetables on the side, too. It loses a bit of the crunchiness after microwaving, but it’s good to keep in the freezer or fridge.

There are lots of posts on Chowhound and other forums about where to get a slab of pork belly and comparisons among different sources and types. Hooray for the Internet! W- called around a bunch of places to check if they stocked pork bellies without pre-ordering, and what the prices are like. We checked out T&T Supermarket last weekend. T&T is large, well-stocked, and well-organized, and it’s nice to not deal with downtown traffic or parking. T&T’s prices are bit higher than the ones we’ve seen before (Chinatown or the Asian grocery store that has now closed), but their pork belly prices aren’t as high as the prices at specialty butchers. We might try pork bellies from a few other places before we settle on a new favourite source. Maybe a monthly pork belly roast? Yum.

As for the other things we used to get on a fairly regular basis: PAT Mart and other Asian grocery stores usually have bitter melons. We stock up on cans of salted black beans and packages of tapioca pearls when the opportunity comes up, since they’re shelf-stable. I can make tapioca pearls in a pinch, since the Bulk Barn sells tapioca starch.

It’s nice to live in an international city where I can get these ingredients. If I tweak my grocery shopping or I get better at taking advantage of the times when I’m out, I might enjoy a wider variety of recipes. On the other hand, it might be okay to be generally satisfied with a smaller set of recipes, and focus instead on adding more vegetables. Hmm…

2016-01-18 Emacs News

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

Past Emacs News round-ups

Weekly review: Week ending January 15, 2016

This week was about preparation. I’ve been gradually winding up my consulting-related projects, and I’m delighted that the team’s well-prepared to do all sorts of awesomeness.

We’ve been thinking about our household routines and the organization of our things, too. More decluttering, more organizing… things are slowly becoming smoother. This is good.

I stocked the freezer with lots of lasagna and brainstormed other things that would be good to make in bulk. I thought about our backup plans for cooking, too. We like home-cooked meals a lot, and there are a number of recipes we’re comfortable throwing together with little time or energy. We’re not too keen on delivery or take-out, although they’ll do in a pinch.

More sewing, and more wrapping up of old projects or loose scraps. I’ve run into a small supply-chain problem: the snaps I ordered haven’t arrived yet. Might have been delayed due to the holidays, or might have gotten lost in the shuffle. I’ve contacted the eBay seller, and I’ll look into other sources too. Ah well! No big deal. Fortunately, I’ve been working on projects roughly in order of priority, and everything is optional anyway.

More fiddling with tech. I flipped through a few e-books on the tablet since I can check out books from the library on it. It’s okay, although my Kindle is a little easier to hold. I’ve tried out a few games, too, so we’ll see how that goes. Setting up FlickFolio to shuffle through my sketchbook has been a good way to nudge me to reflect on previous thoughts and draw updates.

Oh, and I’ve filed the business paperwork I needed for my personal tax return. (Keener!) Now all I have to do is wait for the tax slips from banks, which will probably come in March. At least my part is out of the way!

2016-01-17a Week ending 2016-01-15 -- index card #journal #weekly output

Blog posts


Focus areas and time review

  • Business (27.0h – 16%)
    • Earn (17.0h – 62% of Business)
      • ☑ Check on work
      • ☑ Sort out scraping
      • ☑ Earn: E1: 1-2 days of consulting
      • ☐ Earn: E1: 1-2 days of consulting
    • Build (8.1h – 29% of Business)
      • Drawing (6.9h)
      • Paperwork (0.9h)
    • Connect (2.0h – 7% of Business)
  • Relationships (9.0h – 5%)
    • ☑ Set up bathroom
    • ☑ Pick up clothes, give lasagna
    • ☑ Research lighting
    • ☑ Send a note to the Hattoris
  • Discretionary – Productive (13.8h – 8%)
    • Emacs (0.9h – 0% of all)
      • ☑ Do another Emacs News review
      • ☑ Announce Hangout
      • ☑ Host 2016-01-16 Emacs Hangout
      • ☐ Do another Emacs News review
    • Writing (6.2h)
    • Sewing (2.5h)
    • ☑ Check out Value Village sale
    • ☑ Explore Flickr apps for the Android tablet
  • Discretionary – Play (10.2h – 6%)
  • Personal routines (24.9h – 14%)
  • Unpaid work (15.2h – 9%)
  • Sleep (68.0h – 40% – average of 9.7 per day)

2016-01-16 Emacs Hangout

Event page: https://plus.google.com/b/108840863190686221561/events/cqe6vjn5a3jbt8971n9ovljl78g


  • 0:19 Posting to blog
  • 0:25 Cheat sheet
  • 0:31 Books
  • 0:36 Org Mode
  • 0:40 Emacs config
  • 0:42 Programming languages and modes
  • 0:51 Discovery of the week
  • 0:52 Kanban
  • 0:56 Bug trackers, Scrum
  • 1:04 Helm, input methods
  • 1:08 Mobile access
  • 1:18 Sharing

Text chat:

Neat links from Paul Harper, who couldn’t participate in the voice chat: I am writing in to share my ‘discovery of the week’ which was J. Alexander Branham’s Blog and his dotemacs on Github. He is a PhD Candidate at UT-Austin in the Department of Government. He has some very good posts on using Emacs for Markdown, LaTeX and R for academic types. It complements Kiern Healy’s one for Social Scientists, and Vikas Rawal’s Orgpaper.

me 8:49 PM Jira
Shakthi Kannan 8:58 PM https://github.com/ianxm/emacs-scrum
me 8:59 PM org-ascii-text-width
me 9:03 PM https://github.com/jtatarik/ical-event/blob/master/gnus-calendar.el
Puneeth Chaganti 9:03 PM Paul, there seemed to be a lot of noise on your end. I muted you. Unmute yourself when you want to speak. Thanks!
Bill Zimmerly 9:13 PM Great ssh client for Android –> https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.server.auditor.ssh.client
me 9:13 PM http://zot.github.io/Leisure/?load=http://zot.github.io/Leisure/elisp/README.org
me 9:18 PM tmate
Joe Heyming 9:21 PM gotta go, bye
me 9:22 PM Quick tmate demo: ssh [email protected]
Puneeth Chaganti 9:23 PM I can see the emacs tutorial. ~.

A reflection on leisure and discretionary time

I’m coming up to the 4-year mark of this 5-year experiment with semi-retirement. The start of the final year might even neatly coincide with the next substantial change I’ve been planning. I’ve been very lucky to have had this opportunity to explore, and it’s a good opportunity to reflect on self-direction and leisure.

This past year has been a little like the openness of my final year of university, when my habit of taking summer courses freed up half the typical academic load for the schoolyear and I had plenty of time to explore open source development. This time, I had even more autonomy. No exams to study for, no projects to submit; just choices.

I’m learning that my physical state strongly influences my mental state, which then strongly influences how I use my time and how I feel about that use. If I’m tired or fuzzy-brained, I won’t get a lot done. I’ve learned to make better use of fuzzy-brained times by keeping a list of small tasks I can do, like housework. I invest some of my alert time in building the systems and processes to help me when I’m fuzzy-brained, too. Long-term, I’m probably well-served by investing more time in health. I’ll rest when I need to. Beyond that, if my mind’s not as active or as energetic as I’d like, there’s always working on my energy.

I feel particularly good when I use my discretionary time to:

  • contribute to the Emacs community by organizing resources, writing code or posts, answering questions, and experimenting with ideas
  • build tools for myself (interfaces, scripts, etc.), especially if I can learn more about libraries or frameworks
  • dig deeper into thoughts through a combination of drawing and writing
  • sew something, especially if I end up using it a lot
  • research, plan, and take notes
  • work on other skills
  • watch or read something informative/interesting/useful, particularly if it’s practical or skill-related

I feel good when I:

  • declutter, organize, document, and/or improve our routines, files, and other resources
  • cook something yummy (mostly focusing on familiar recipes at the moment, but I’m looking forward to exploring more)
  • play video games with W-, especially when we pick up new in-jokes or when we pull off neat tricks when beating the enemies
  • keep the household running
  • go for a long walk, especially with a useful destination and an interesting podcast to listen to or a question to think about
  • stretch a little or do whatever exercises I can
  • watch a good movie with W-, especially when it results in more in-jokes or an appreciation of how the movie is put together

On the other hand, I feel like time’s just passing when I:

  • write, but not end up posting my notes (although it’s a little bit better if I organize them for later review)
  • read casually, without a particular application or goal: books, e-books, the Internet
  • play games, especially if there’s not much sense of progress

I’ve come to enjoy a lot of different kinds of discretionary time. I think I don’t need a lot of pure leisure, at least not the vegging-out kind. I definitely like having a lot of discretionary time – to be able to choose what to do when – but even the things we do for day-to-day living can be enjoyable.

I will probably have less absolute time for leisure and less control of my time in general, but I think I’ll be okay. Because of this experiment, I’ve been learning that time probably isn’t my limiting factor when it comes to things like writing or learning or making things. It’s probably more about curiosity, observation, motivation, and experience, and those are things that I can develop through the years.