An unremarkable week at work, made memorable only by its brevity. We get an extra day off for Canadian Thanksgiving, which makes for a nice four day weekend. What wasn’t nice is how I spent this extra day off on Friday—prostrated on the couch with flu symptoms and zero energy, courtesy of the Moderna booster I got the day prior. The same thing happened with my previous shot, so with that hindsight I at least knew not to plan anything for the day after.

I slacked off writing this post long enough that I can only muster point form from here:

  • 🌳 Rooted
    • I seem to have joined and reached out to the right people at just the right time to form a triad for working through My Grandmother’s Hands. The other folks in my group had just found each other and started looking for a third when I sent my message. I feel I’m going to learn a lot from them, and am grateful we found each other quickly.
    • I attended a session on Ancestral Belonging today. It’s my first direct exposure to ancestral healing, so much of it went over my head, but I was surprised how much actually resonated. I’m definitely more open to it now than I was two years ago when I first heard of it.
  • 🧠 Anki. I’ve spent a little bit of time setting up custom cards/fields for learning words in both English and Russian from the same notes. The lack of preexisting decks, add-ons, or even anecdotal workflows online worries me a bit—is this an anti-pattern of some kind? Another speed bump is the lack of a good Russian dictionary online. I found this one, and it claims to be the only free one out there, but it’s … just ok. The lack of APIs for these dictionary services or prebuilt Anki add-ons combined with the friction of card creation on mobile could make this entire deck building game too difficult. We’ll see.
  • 🎮 Speaking of games, I picked up No Man’s Sky on the Switch the day after it came out. While technically it was free due to some trade-ins I’ve been holding onto for too long, this is actually the third time I buy it. I got it on PC via Steam on release day (and was seemingly in the minority that liked it even then), and salvaged a used copy on Kijiji a few years back for the PlayStation. It always felt like the perfect game for a portable console, though. The mix of mining and chill space exploration lends itself well to couch- and bed-times. With the latest update—once it actually gets pushed to the store—the grinding aspect can thankfully be tuned down, and I should finally be able to get sentinels and those annoying bitey plants off my back, so I can pillage their planets’ natural resources with only my conscience’s sting.

Next week I’ll be off on a short maybe-climbing-maybe-just-eating-and-drinking trip.

Mount Nemo cliff face

🧗🏻‍♂️ Climbing at Mount Nemo

In a surprising alignment of schedules, I was able to get together with E+D+J on Friday and spend the day at Mount Nemo. There wasn’t a single cloud in the sky, but due to the cooler temperatures and the northeast facing cliff, keeping warm was a challenge, especially when climbing. My fingers definitely went numb a few times from the coldness of the rock. The last time I climbed outdoors was in 2017, and my indoors climbing has been infrequent in the past couple of years, so I stayed on very moderate routes.

Even though I’ve actually been to this crag before it’s the first time I climbed there. The approach is a bit tricky, as there is no direct path to the base. It requires a couple of downclimbs including a fun squeeze through a mini cave, narrow enough that you need to take off your backpack to fit. On my first visit it took me so long to find a way down that I ran out of time to actually climb. 😂

As I get older my relationship with climbing is changing. It’s less about getting a workout or pushing my limits and more about connecting with myself, with my friends, and with nature. Less ambition, more presence. It’s a true hobby in a sense that I get a lot out of it while allowing myself to be completely terrible.

P.S. D shared some Russian confectionery given to him by a friend. I forgot how good these are! It’s basically chocolate glazed cheesecake. This one’s flavoured with condensed milk.

Package of a russian confectionery B. U. Aleksandrov

The marketing is bizarre, though, as my best literal translation of the writing on the left is “glazed cottage cheese”. The other flavour was titled—and I am not making this up—”Potato”. There were no 🥔s in the ingredients list. I guess that’s how you make your products more appealing to a Russian audience.

🏃🏻‍♂️ First Half Marathon

Despite being quite tired from climbing the day before, I decided to try for a half marathon distance yesterday. My goal was to do it by end of season, so I wouldn’t have to worry about catching a cold in case I had to stop during the run. With the rapidly dropping temperatures and having only reached 17.5km after adding 500m-1km each week in the summer, I was starting to get worried. My knee has also been bothering me quite a bit, forcing me to turn back at the 5km mark on my last attempt. I wasn’t feeling particularly optimistic, but figured I’d give it a shot, and if it didn’t work out I’d try again next year.

It was rough. I set a low pace from the start, but the knee pain kicked in around km 7. The difference this time was the pain remained low-grade instead of intensifying rapidly. I was waiting for a clear signal to turn back, but it never came. I wasn’t pushing for any target time, and having climbed the day before I knew I wasn’t in top shape, so I made many stops along the way to stretch. I think this helped.

At the end I ran 22km! This is a major milestone for me. For the longest time I didn’t believe I could run longer than 10k. The only race I ran (last year) reinforced my fears, as I crossed the finish line in pain so bad that I probably wouldn’t have made it if the distance was 11km.

At this point I don’t have a longer distance goal. I’ve gotta sort out my knee issues first. Still, I’m very happy that I was able to check this off my bucket list! 😄

💠 Misc

  • 🇷🇺 I’ve been enjoying listening to some Russian podcasts on psychology (1, 2, 3). I was apprehensive at first, because I think I was expecting a major difference from the Western approach, but that hasn’t been the case so far. Hearing the various terminology in Russian has been helpful, and has reminded me that I should probably pick up building an Anki deck again. I gave it a try at the start of the pandemic, but overwhelmed myself by importing multiple vocab decks with many words that I already knew and many that I’d never use, so the habit didn’t stick.
  • 💬 Read up a bit on Scuttlebutt today. A fully decentralized social network is an enticing idea! I dig the way you can build the network slowly, through people you know or communities you trust. I imagine that would allow me to share more private things than I currently do on here. The thing that keeps me from immediately jumping on board is it’s apparently not possible to maintain the same identity across multiple devices. I believe it’s being worked on, so I may revisit later.
  • 🎮 Playing: Disco Elysium. It’s in my top 10 games of all time. I had finished it recently on the Playstation, but a) liked it so much I immediately wanted to replay it, and b) wanted to play it in bed, so picked it up on the Switch as well. My first playthrough was Hi-Psy-Phy. This time it’s gonna be an agile artcop. 🤸‍♀️🖌️
  • 🎥 Watched: Rocketman (2019; Loved it!) and Rings of Power.

close up of grass

🐢 Slowing Down

I’ve spent most of the week recovering from burnout symptoms of the week prior. I’m still figuring out how to do this effectively, but one thing that always helps is slowing down. Waaay down. For me it can look like:

  • Clearing my calendar of as many commitments as I can
  • Breaking the routine in some way
  • If that’s too difficult, giving myself permission to coast on an existing routine
  • Adding some kind of self-care activity before bed (listening to music, colouring, reading)
  • Getting outside, if even just for a walk
  • Going to bed earlier
  • Doing fewer things per day in general, and taking time with those

I found “Rest Isn’t the Opposite of Work” helpful. A few other apropos links:

  • The Efficiency Delusion: increased efficiency doesn’t actually free up time for leisure activities.
  • Talk less when interviewing to give yourself more time to take notes and (my addition) the candidate more time to think and clarify.
  • Take the time to build consensus. “In a hierarchical process, often a decision is made quickly, and then days or weeks or months are spent getting buy-in after the fact[…]. In a consensus decision-making process, the decision and the buy-in land at the same time.”
  • Tending to my garden. Repost from last week, but it’s just so relevant.
  • Waste Not. “The point of composting is not simply that it produces a useful end result; it also forces one to slow down and participate in a cycle of transformation that is not driven by the capitalistic drive for efficiency and economic growth presently consuming the planet. Its pace is set by the organic process of decay, not the demands of profit.”

🏘 Rooted Global Village

I joined Rooted. I have many intentions going into it: add a somatic element to my ongoing education about race and abolition, unlearn harmful behaviours, grow my race comfort zone, break an inter-generational trauma cycle, try connecting with my ancestors. Moreover, I want to do all this in contact with other White folks. This is new and unclear and scary, but it’s also slow work, which I feel more comfortable with. While I was aware of this community for a couple of years I finally feel ready to engage. I’ll be (re)starting reading My Grandmother’s Hands to support my learning.

🇷🇺 Russian

My affinity towards my first culture ebbs and flows. On one hand, I despise the actions of the current regime and many before it, which pushes me away. On the other, I still feel like I have a deep connection to the culture itself, and I don’t want to lose that. It’s slipping though. I want to approach my learning here carefully, as it’s easy to stumble on state-controlled or state-influenced media. I’m trying out some podcasts for now on specific topics I’m interested in outside of politics.

💠 Misc

  • I’ve been working 8-4 for a few weeks now. The first week was tough, as I was definitely suffering from FOMO and feeling helpless with how little I felt I was getting done. But it’s improved and I feel like it’s been helpful in staving off the worst of burnout symptoms last week. I’ve gotten outside or to my local climbing gym more frequently than before, and waking up earlier hasn’t been a problem.
  • I liked Maya’s defence of ebikes (and the linked “lyrical paean” 😃). “I don’t want to show up to things sweaty. I don’t want to have to dress for exercise for my commute.” THIS! This is the reason why I’ve been thinking of supplementing my regular bike with one of ’em e-scooters. I like the simplicity and lightness of a regular bike for workouts or casual rides around the neighbourhood, but hate arriving sweaty and having to pack and change clothes.
  • John Cutler’s newsletter is high signal as usual. His post on goal cascades resonated. I’d love for the industry to move to this approach to planning, but suspect the “three pillar” cascade is just too alluringly simple to abandon. Especially since planning in many places is a show with departments getting away working towards outputs first, and then aligning them to goals later.

House rooftops with a moon crescent in the clear sky

It happened sooner than I expected, but this is the week that I just don’t have the spoons to write this post. It was a tough one at work. Nothing terrible happened, but the grind had me manifesting burnout symptoms, which required tending to on the weekend. I’m going to leave here a few links that I appreciated this week:

  • Winnie Lim‘s entire site. I love how vulnerable and honest she gets with the audience. It’s something I’m still figuring out for myself, and it’s nice to have a site that models the opposite of the “detached” mainstream. I’ve been thinking about “slowness” lately, so tending to my garden resonated.
  • Official myths by Mandy Brown. I appreciate the nuance in Mandy’s writing on remote work and the centering of local communities in her advocacy.
  • I stumbled upon DevOps Topologies and it got me thinking about the kind that my own workplace implements. I’m grateful that this resource is on the web for free.
  • On the tooling side, I’m thankful for the authors who put the work into making Goaccess. It’s a lovely tool that analyzes access logs locally and outputs reports. It focuses on one thing and does it really well.