Write Everything Down (Part 3): My Personal Organizational System

As promised in my previous posts about organization, I will now go into some detail about my own organizational system. But before I start talking about it, and how I came to develop it, I’d like to emphasize a few points, or more specifically, three caveats, lest Zeus strike me down with a thunderbolt for my hubris: Caveat the First: My system is a work in progress. Even though it is overall very helpful, it’s always falling apart a little bit.

Write Everything Down (Part 2): Failed Organizational Systems

In my previous post on organization, I concluded with this statement: As everyone’s brain works differently (whether ADHD or not), people differ tremendously in what their ideal organizational systems are. For me, I am much less productive if I have a less than ideal system – the stakes are very high. But even for people who can be productive on any system, I think that tailoring their system to their brain, their lifestyle, their job and schedule and hobbies, can have amazing results.

Write Everything Down (Part 1)

Memory Leak I have an excellent memory. I have a terrible memory. Well, which one is it? This is a confusing state to be in. It can be frustrating to people around me. How is it – my father used to ask me when I was in high school – that I could remember all the lessons and readings for my tests in school, and get all the good grades, but couldn’t ever remember to do the simplest task or household chore, or to bring with me the simplest item?

Fiction Review: Plain Truth

I enjoyed Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult. I finished it a couple of months ago, when I was feeling very restless and impatient about everything going on in my life. At the time, I desperately needed fun books to read, but I was simultaneously having a lot of trouble finishing books. This book pulled me the whole way through when other books were failing to: It was in a setting, the Amish communities, that had always interested me.

Reviews and Reactions: 2022 Short Story Hugo Nominees

We decided to write up our thoughts on each of the short stories nominated for the 2022 Hugo awards. Of course, here be spoilers, spoilers galore. If you don’t want these stories spoiled, go read them, and then come back here. This is the same concept as Jimmy’s review of the 2021 nominees, and so we shall adapt the explanation from that post: As an exercise, we read each of these stories and told each other what we thought the themes were, and I reference that throughout these reflections.

Netflix Should Become a Tech Company

Netflix should become a tech company. I hear the obvious response already: Jimmy, Netflix is already a tech company! Counterpoint: Is it though? Somehow, after two dot-com booms, the markets still have an aesthetic-based definition of what constitutes a “tech company”: If a company – any company – has an expensive enough app, and if its founders talk enough about “disrupting” industries, then it is a “tech company” and is therefore entitled to a valuation completely disconnected from its actual industry.

God grant me patience… and I want it RIGHT NOW!

I’ve been feeling recently like I’ve been spinning my wheels in my personal life. I’m pressing on the metaphorical accelerator as hard as I can, probably too hard for safety, and instead of moving forward, the wheels are just spinning, spinning, spinning. I think a large part of it is my perspective of time. “Time is canceled,” my friends and I would say continuously during the lockdown. And it isn’t back, not yet, not how it used to be, not for me.

More on Mortgages

Mortgage interest rates have recently risen, and are currently very volatile. At the time of this writing, PSECU, my credit union, is offering mortgages at 5.125%, much higher than the 3.125% I locked in at, but lower than the peak above 6% I had recently read about in the news. But what does this mean in practice? Well, let’s run some numbers. Understanding how expensive a house is can be confusing.

Reviews and Reactions: 2021 Short Story Hugo Nominees

NB: These are for the 2021 Hugo awards, not the recently-announced 2022 Hugo awards. That one is coming soon. I decided to write up my thoughts on each of the short stories nominated for the 2021 Hugo awards. Of course, here be spoilers, spoilers galore. If you don’t want these stories spoiled, go read them, and then come back here. As an exercise, a friend and I read each of these stories and told each other what we thought the themes were, and I reference that throughout these reflections.

Review: The Comic Book Story of Beer

I like beer, and I like comic books, so I was excited to read The Comic Book Story of Beer. And it was overall quite a fun read! It contextualized how important beer was in antiquity – including theories that beer catalyzed the agricultural revolution – and how important it’s been in society ever since, taking a social approach to the entire history, while also explaining a lot of the science alongside the primarily social narrative.

Can you reproduce it?

NOTE: This post has the #programming tag, but is intended to be comprehensible by everyone, programmer or not. In fact, I hope some non-programmers read it, as my goal with this post is to explain some of what it means to be a programmer to non-programmers. Therefore, it is also tagged with “nontechnical”. What is the most important skill for a software engineer? It’s definitely not any particular programming language; they come and go, and a good programmer can pick them up as they work.

Biking to Philly

I am out of biking shape. I know I am out of biking shape. The pandemic has not been good to my physical fitness. (For the record, this isn’t a proper edited and outlined and triaged essay, just some notes on my past weekend.) But as out of shape as I am, I also know it’s only 25 miles from here to Philly on the Schuylkill River Trail, and so I figured maybe I could do it without any additional prep.

Crank-‘em Out

For a time, I tried to cultivate an interest in Go. Not this Go, but this Go. The interest didn’t last long – like chess, I had a hard time getting up to even a fairly basic level of competence. And I quickly developed another enthusiastic interest to replace it – sometimes, an interest just doesn’t work out, and it’s nobody’s fault, and you have to just move on and not get too sad, because there’s plenty of fish in the sea.

Mortgages are Interesting

I just bought a house, and it came with a mortgage. I bought the house and committed to the mortgage all in one ceremony, in a cute little office where I signed enough papers that the sellers were able to solemnly hand me the keys to my new castle. In the lead-up to this, I was told how early payments, mortgage insurance, and refinancing works, and it’s – I think very reasonably – been on my mind since.

A Modern Version

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Were too busy deciding who would be king…
To even TRY to put Humpty Dumpty together again.
And he’s just sitting there, all yolk and shell, waiting…

A Prudent Quarantine

Five Members sat in council. There are some activities, some patterns of human group behavior, that transcend era and culture, and meeting in council is one of them. In spite of the youth of the participants – they were in their late teens and early 20’s – and the informality of the setting – leather couches covered in scratch marks, unfinished walls – they still clearly were sitting in council. The seriousness with which they were watching the video, their intentional and controlled posturing and nuanced glances, would have been instantly recognizable to any Parliament or Diet throughout history.

A Respectable Octopedian

In front of Penny in line was a 7 foot tall humanoid with glowing blue skin. She suppressed the urge to ask what species they were, and let the alien order their vegan breakfast burrito. The barista at United Planets’ first-floor Starbucks looked human except for the extra hands. Polycherian, Penny remembered. When the barista handed Penny her order – an egg and cheese sandwich on a bagel – Penny bowed respectfully and said pflintsu – Polycherian for “thank you” – before getting on the elevator.

All Rent Should Be Cancelled

Even early last week, before restaurants were closed, before we were banned from unnecessary gatherings, when many people still had to go into their office jobs, the bars were empty on my street. I walked into one, ordered a cocktail, asked the bartender why it was so slow. It was usually slow on Tuesdays, of course, but normally there was at least one other customer. But the pandemic had already scared everyone else away, and if it continued, the bar would surely have to close.

Just Jump

Kayleigh needed a break from work. When you need a break from work, sometimes you go to the bathroom. Sometimes you stop by the coffee machine, chat with a colleague while it brews. And sometimes, you straight-up leave the office and walk to a nearby bar. Today, Kayleigh found herself taking that last option. She didn’t normally do this — she felt that, as the boss, she had to hold herself to a higher standard than anyone else, and drinking before the end of the workday was against policy.

The Letter from the Trees

ENVELOPE HEADER: Date: January 5, 2027 To: Rachel Friedman, President of the United States and Leader of the Free World From: The Roots of the Great Trees of Galaxy-Wide Civilization Subject: An Offer, an Apology, and an Explanation The Offer In the name of the One Almighty God: in the name of the Many Stars through which God is made manifest, in the name of the manifestation of God you call the Sun, and in the name of Original Star from Before Time, we offer you peace, not of a lack of conflict, but of a mutual growth.

Extra Version

There’s a lot of books and articles out there about how to interact with, or be, an introvert. Society really looks down on introverts, we hear, and even when it doesn’t, it certainly isn’t designed to be navigated by introverts. They’re a very misunderstood bunch, but they have a lot to contribute. Here’s how you can properly cherish them, etc. etc. Katelin couldn’t relate to any of this at all. Society not designed for introverts — bullshit!

Father, Forgive Them

Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. Jesus, on the cross (Luke 23:34) My grandfather always used to love telling a certain anecdote about Calvin Coolidge. He was a man of such few words that one time, President Coolidge went to hear a world-famous preacher preach. Upon returning from the sermon, his wife asked what it was about. He replied “sin.” Not satisfied with the answer, the wife asked, “Well, what did the preacher have to say about sin?

Experiences in Switzerland

Just wanted to write up a summary of random notes from my Switzerland trip, not including the conference which was also a lot of fun but I think less interesting for my non-programmer friends, slash it might make for a better separate post. SIM set up It was relatively easy to buy a Swisscom SIM card in the airport, although they did not offer to set it up in my phone for me.

Putting On Airs

Julia liked Eric. She wasn’t in love with Eric, she didn’t fantasize about marrying him or idly think about what their children would be like, but she liked him, an appropriate amount for having met him only two times. Internet dating was strange to her, and she knew that dating took work. And besides, it was a good sign she was mature enough to not feel those goofier feelings yet. She would instead be, appropriately, cautiously yet earnestly excited.

Music and Lyrics

I just finished singing Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis in a concert as a member of the Grace Church Choral Society, and it was the most technically difficult piece I have ever sung in a choir. It was a single piece of concert length, a mass setting, as is custom for our spring concerts. It was all in one language: in this case, in Latin. This is different from our holiday concerts in the winter, where we sing a variety of Christmas-y and otherwise celebratory works in a variety of (European, Christian) languages, including English.

Soulfully

When Rajnish had agreed to mentor an intern, he was not expecting such a young girl. He was a little bit reassured when he was told how well Erica had done in college, that she was a “genius” — a dubious word, he would’ve preferred a “hard worker” or a “promising candidate” — but how could anyone deserve to be a junior in college at 17? She must be tricking everyone.

Is the US the only country?

A common trope within left-leaning American circles is to claim that the US is the only “developed” or “industrial” or “major” or “first world” country to not have X, where X is usually something like “publicly funded health care” or “government-guaranteed paid family leave” or similar. Recently this came up with Bernie Sanders and his common refrain that the US was the only “major” country to not guarantee health care as a human right.

The Bible, Me Too, and Lust

[Jesus said:] You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.” But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.

Angels

The intern was nervous as she approached her boss, manila folder in hand. “Congresswoman Fischer,” she said, “I’m not sure I was actually supposed to see this document — I think it might be classified — but you did say you wanted me to look for examples of wasteful spending that might make for good PR…” Congresswoman Fischer waved the explanation away and then reached her hand out for the document.

Are you sure?

Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the local clergy, and the town council had been planning this concept for over a year. Finally they did it: Right in the town square, they installed a giant loudspeaker. From thenceforth, every two minutes, a booming voice would spread all over town, announcing “Are you sure?” Foolhardy decisions, they had decreed, would soon be a thing of the past. The locals seemed to adapt pretty readily.

India: Little Differences

Second collected thoughts on India. More Communitarian, Less Individualistic, Through Food and Beverage There is much less emphasis on individual choice. If you order tea (chay in Hindi) it will come with milk in it. If you order coffee, it will come with milk in it. They will not ask you how you want your coffee. Similarly, when I was in a cab ride between cities, I was not asked what food I wanted at the rest stop.

Adulting in India

The Way of NYC When I first moved to New York City, someone older and wiser than I gave me the following “rules” of New York City: Nothing is cheap. Nothing is easy. There are no exceptions to the first two rules. I found this to be extremely true in New York City. It was stressful and exhausting, and I was broke and living off an advance I’d gotten from my then-employer, living in AirBnB’s I could put on credit card, where I could maybe stay in each for a month, tops.

India: Zeroth Impressions

Everyone’s been asking me how India is and has been wondering if I’ve gone exploring. I haven’t really. Sunday I was just recovering from jetlag and yesterday I had work and then I immediately had to go home and crash I was so tired: so I guess again recovering from jet lag? This would normally not prevent me from exploring, but I’m honestly a little outside my comfort zone. I am not in a walkable neighborhood of a city like I expected, but next to a huge highway.