One month with the SuperNote A5X

| supernote, drawing, tech

I've had my SuperNote A5X for a month now, and I really like it.

Text from my sketch

I use it for:

  • untangling thoughts
  • sketchnoting books
  • planning
  • drafting blog posts
  • drawing

A- uses it for: (she's 6 years old)

  • practising cursive
  • doing mazes and dot-to-dots
  • drawing
  • reading lyrics

Things I'm learning:

  • Exporting PNGs at 200% works well for my workflow. I rename them in Dropbox and upload them to sketches.sachachua.com.
  • Carefully copying & deleting pages lets me preserve page numbers. I use lassoed titles for active thoughts and maintain a manual index for other things.
  • Layouts:
    • Landscape: only easier to review on my laptop
    • Portrait columns: lots of scrolling up and down
    • Portrait rows: a little harder to plan, but easier to review
  • Many books fit into one page each.
  • Google Lens does a decent job of converting my handwriting to text (print or cursive, even with a background). Dropbox → Google Photos → Orgzly → Org
  • Draft blog posts go into new notebooks so that I can delete them once converted.
  • The Super Note helps me reclaim a lot of the time I spend waiting for A-. A digital notebook is really nice. Easy to erase, rearrange, export… It works well for me.
  • Part of my everyday carry kit

Ideas for growth:

  • Settle into monthly pages, bullet journaling techniques
  • Practise drawing; use larger graphic elements & organizers, different shades
  • Integrate into Zettelkasten

I put my visual book notes and visual library notes into a Dropbox shared folder so that you can check them out if you have a Supernote. If you don't have a Supernote, you can find my visual book notes at sketches.sachachua.com. Enjoy!

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2022-08-22 Emacs news

| emacs, emacs-news

Links from reddit.com/r/emacs, r/orgmode, r/spacemacs, r/planetemacs, Hacker News, lobste.rs, planet.emacslife.com, YouTube, the Emacs NEWS file, Emacs Calendar, emacs-devel, and lemmy/c/emacs.

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Visual book notes: Influence is Your Superpower - Zoe Chance (2022)

| visual-book-notes, parenting

It was interesting to read Zoe Chance's book Influence is Your Superpower (2022) with a focus on influencing A-, who is 6 years old and definitely more reachable via her Gator brain than her Judge brain. Shining is easier because I have to connect with just one person who really wants to connect with me. Creating space with the "No" challenge is a little tougher, since she's pretty wise to the way I try to soften nos. ("You always say later!") But I'm definitely going to try to practise doing aikido with her mind, accepting her resistance and exploring it with questions. I can work on using my relaxed voice most of the time, especially since she's sensitive to my tone. I also like the tip about using the Zeigarnik effect to invite her curiosity and get her to ask, maybe by using things like "I might know something that could help. Would you like to hear about it?" instead of jumping in with advice. Paying attention to how we frame things (monumental, manageable, mysterious?) and challenging ourselves to do bigger and better might be fun, too. She's old enough that I might even be able to ask her, "What would it take?" I'm sure she'll pick up that behaviour quickly and ask me that when she wants something, so I'd better be prepared for that!

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Making better use of time as we grow more independent together

| parenting, time

I've been coming to terms with the idea that I might not get appreciably more focus time over the next few years, if we decide to either continue with virtual school or switch to homeschooling. It's okay. A-'s going to grow more independent and disappear for long stretches of time, so there's no need to rush or push her away just so that I can do stuff on my computer. I'll miss these days soon enough.

So I just need enough me time to keep myself sane and to make better use of interstitial time as the opportunities arise: waiting for her to wake up, waiting for her to finish reading or playing, waiting for her to go to sleep… I'm starting to be able to find 5 minutes here, 20 minutes there. Most of the time, I can't jump on my laptop. If I'm on a screen, she'll want to be on a screen. Fortunately, my SuperNote doesn't trigger that sense of unfairness, so I can draw or write as long as I'm willing to let her use it if she wants to draw too.

I get some coding time here and there, too. I've shifted to more of an advisory role for my consulting, helping a couple of other developers via text chat on my phone throughout the day and sitting down to code when A-'s watching a movie. Sometimes I work on personal projects while A- watches a movie. She's very good at insisting we both take eye breaks, and from all her questions, I get the feeling that her brain is still very busy processing the Nth time through Frozen or the LEGO Movie. Cool, cool. Might as well use that time to work on continuous improvement. There's always more tidying to do, but it's also good to play around with ideas and try to make things better.

So, what do I want to think about and work on when these opportunities come up? How can I accelerate during those little sprints of thinking time?

  • Drawing and writing: I can collect questions to reflect on or thoughts to untangle, so I can quickly pick one and add to a sketch or a handwritten draft of a blog post.
  • Book notes: I can keep a bookmark in a book and sketchnote a few more pages when I have the chance. Bonus: she sees me reading. Good time to learn more about parenting, education, psychology, and other topics that might be useful.
  • Coding: I can work on setting up my server so that I can write and publish blog posts from my phone, including referring to sketches and converting hand-written drafts.
  • House: I can get rid of more clutter so that I can find things more easily.
  • Tech: I can prepare ePubs and PDFs to read on my SuperNote so that I can learn more about things that will make coding easier or more fun.

What if I want to create more time? How can I get more focused time?

  • E-book reading time: A- quickly finishes books from the library, but the tablet can be a portal to thousands more books. Besides, sometimes she just wants to read, and that's okay.
  • More consistent bedtime: if I go to sleep at a reasonable time, I can use some time in there morning to do stuff. I just have to be ready to set it aside when she wakes up.
  • At the playground: if we're at a playdate, I like to still pay attention to the kids and the other parents. I can bring a 3x3 cube and my SuperNote to take advantage of spare time, though.
  • More books to lose herself in: I pick up lots of book recommendations from Facebook, and the library's a great source. It's a win all around: we get extra exercise walking to the library, she learns about more things and more words, and I get time to focus on something.
  • Take-out/convenience foods, preparing ahead: it takes me around an hour to make dinner. I can occasionally swap some of that time for thinking or coding time by using money. Hmm…

It'll be great. Sure, it's not the sudden jump in discretionary time that I might have had if A- was going to go to in-person school, but this way could be good too. I can grow into it just like A- will grow into her own independence. It reminds me of the way my 5-year experiment with semi-retirement started off with lots of consulting and slowly ratcheted down until I felt comfortable using most of my time for my own stuff. We can learn about time apart together.

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2022-08-15 Emacs news

| emacs, emacs-news

Links from reddit.com/r/emacs, r/orgmode, r/spacemacs, r/planetemacs, Hacker News, lobste.rs, planet.emacslife.com, YouTube, the Emacs NEWS file, Emacs Calendar, emacs-devel, and lemmy/c/emacs. Thanks to Andrés Ramírez for links!

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2022-08-08 Emacs news

| emacs, emacs-news

Links from reddit.com/r/emacs, r/orgmode, r/spacemacs, r/planetemacs, Hacker News, lobste.rs, planet.emacslife.com, YouTube, the Emacs NEWS file, Emacs Calendar, emacs-devel, and lemmy/c/emacs. Thanks to Andrés Ramírez for links!

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Visual Book Notes: Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals - Oliver Burkeman (2021)

| visual-book-notes, parenting, experiment

I liked Oliver Burkeman's 2021 book Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals. It covered many of the things I've been working learning on for the past 10 years on this experiment with semi-retirement and parenting. Learning to sit with anxieties and uncertainties, accepting my limits and working with them, being here now… These are the lessons I find myself practising every day.

Some things have gotten easier. I've become comfortable with an ever-growing task list that I know I'll never clear. My default task status is SOMEDAY, and I treat the list like a buffet of ideas that I can choose from when I want to. Which is hardly ever, since I'm still living on kid time and have very little focused time for myself. Most days I'm okay with this, as childhood is fleeting and my main challenge is to really be here for it. This is tough. I've been learning that I'm very human. I turn into a hangry ogre if we're out too late. I grump at A- if I get too tired. I work on separating the shark music of my anxiety from what's really going on. We joke about my squirrel brain and find ways to deal with its limits. I've given up many of my illusions about control. Knowing that I still have lots to learn even though I'm almost 39 makes it much easier for me to appreciate A-'s being 6. My journal helps me see how the days build up into months and years. I'm still on the anxious side, but W- helps balance that, and developing resourcefulness and resilience will help too.

While the book is mostly about confronting and working with the limits of being mortal, it also had some interesting thoughts about the value of being in sync with other people. Tangling my life up with W- and A- has helped me learn about things I would never have stretched myself to do on my own. I can see how A- enjoys playing with her friends. We've decided to go with virtual school for Grade 1 to minimize COVID risks (and I've been keeping an eye on monkeypox news too, ugh). I wonder if we can get a full synchronous exemption again this year. It's been nice following A-'s interests. But we did kinda miss out on group experiences of music and dance, and I'm not sure I'll find outdoor classes for those within walking distance. Online classes exist, but then we'll need to sync up with someone else's schedule. Maybe someday, if A- wants it strongly enough. Here I remind myself not to worry too much about her future, not to try to orchestrate things too much. It is enough to observe, support, and join her in learning. Besides, we can still have fun with clapping games and tea parties.

Anyway. Mortality. Cosmic insignificance. I can attest that thinking about these things can be surprisingly reassuring. All we can do is what we can do, and that's enough. Tomorrow I will dress and eat and brush teeth and play and tidy and do other things that I do every day. Against this backdrop of mostly-sameness, A- grows. If I pay attention, I may even notice it–for just as unexpected lasts sneak up on you, unexpected firsts do as well. If I pay attention, I might notice I'm growing too.

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