C and I spent the week between Christmas and New Year in Montreal with a day trip to Quebec City. It’s become a bit of a tradition for us over the years. It’s quiet, calm, and charming.
We got on the big Ferris wheel (La Grande Roue de Montreal)!
In Quebec we rode the sled behind Chateau Frontenac, which is always fun, but also tends to have a long wait (about an hour) at exactly the time we usually get there. C ended up catching a cold :(
We don’t have any goals for these trips other than just to rest. We wake up late and move at our own pace. I find this incredibly recharging, especially after a typically frantic end of year at work. To recover I just need a) a change of scenery, b) no plans or expectations, c) time.
I want to revisit and update them throughout the year, so they are going on their own separate page. Starting with a rough, incomplete list.
Journaling, Mood Tracking, Habits
After seeing them get mentioned in the Remotely Interesting newsletter, trying out Daylio and Day One. I have a private WordPress install that I’ve been using to journal, but it’s been inconsistent. Hoping the convenience and better ergonomics of these apps helps me stay on track.
I haven’t used habit-tracking apps in the past, preferring to just create recurring daily todo items. I don’t want to do most of my habits every single day, though, so I’m trying out Loop Habits, which is free, clean, and supports “X times a week or month” recurrences. I can now have a “practice guitar three times a week” goal and it doesn’t bug me every day.
Enjoying Orba 2. The Android app is really buggy, though, and doesn’t actually store loops, it seems. I was able to just use the voice recorder app to save my very first loop, but now WordPress isn’t letting me upload it. That’s probably for the best.
Can’t proceed with the piano course on Yousician because I need at least three octaves at level 2 and my minilab only has two. Gonna set that aside for now and just focus on guitar and the music theory Udemy course.
Got some new gear
Replaced my decade-old wired M500 mouse with a Logitech MX Master 3S to reduce the amount of wires on my desk. I’m noticing that the messiness has a tangibly negative impact on my ability to concentrate. I’m happy with the mouse! The wireless technology has gotten a lot better. Last time I tried a wireless mouse was probably a decade ago and it would literally stop working if someone was using a microwave nearby.
Replaced my aging Sony earbuds with Soundcore/Anker Life P3i. It’s a much cheaper pair, but I like the form factor and they fit better. I had to buy separate tips for the Sonys, and then needed to take them off before putting them in the case to charge (they wouldn’t fit otherwise).
both seasons of The White Lotus. Most entertained I’ve been by “a bunch of folks are on vacation” premise.
four episodes in S1 of Formula 1: Drive to Survive. C and I enjoy the manbaby drama while equally being horrified by these psychos.
started Harry and Meghan today. I don’t know anything about the royal family, but C recommended this, and I’m curious. Liking it so far!
Nothing. And instead of buying games from my wishlist that are on sale, I … deleted a bunch of games off my wishlist. I’m just gonna buy them at full price if I really want to play them. Perhaps this will encourage me to actually work through my backlog of unplayed games I bought during previous sales?
I’ve been off work since the 15th. It’s the first time that my holiday vacation a) starts a week earlier than for most people, and b) is booked way in advance (back in January!). I remember really having to convince myself to do it, but I’m glad I did. I liked this line from an article I read recently on “rest”:
rest is when you’re not associating your self-worth with what you have to do next.
It resonates with me, because to rest I really need to have few/no plans or expectations, which is not possible for things that are tied to my self-worth! I’ve spent the last week just getting to the point where I feel like I’m starting to relax. When I’m less stressed I can tap into my innate curiosity and my artistic side. That side is tiny and very much underdeveloped, but when I’m rested developing it feels fun and fulfilling, and not like an insurmountable challenge.
I’ve enjoyed diving more into music lately, specifically theory and production. I played piano as a kid, but a) I didn’t learn very much theory, and b) it was a chore that I was made to do rather than something I sought for myself. Music in general was either work or a luxury, which messed up my relationship with it. I’m slowly rediscovering how to engage with it in a healthy, playful, supportive way. After attempting to learn guitar a few times since my parents gifted me one on my 18th birthday, the last attempt—at the start of the pandemic and aided by Yousician—seems to have stuck. I still have structure, but I don’t have to perform for anyone but myself, which is incredibly liberating.
Watched Avatar: Way of Water in AVX (first movie since 2019). Visually stunning, but spiritually vacuous. Recycled tropes and stereotypes, forced acting, predictable plot.
A fire alarm went off about 2 hours into the ~3 hour movie, so I didn’t get to see how it ends, and to be honest I wasn’t even upset. I got enough of the eye-candy and I couldn’t see myself caring about any of the characters if I hadn’t already by that point.
Watched Glass Onion (lovely!) and Triangle of Sadness (entertaining, but kinda pointless)
I’ve been taking the Go train most Saturdays to head down to Toronto to see a friend and rock climb. I enjoy the almost empty trains both ways. The picture is from a return trip yesterday afternoon.
More point form notes as I’m figuratively crawling towards vacation right now:
Week of Nov 28:
Dumped the crypto I’ve been holding (very little). It started out as an experiment back when I didn’t know all the harm it’s causing. The current “winter” may pass, but I can’t be holding an “investment” that I hope will lose all value.
Started playing God of War: Ragnarok. I find the combat to be drawn out and repetitive, so I turn the difficulty way down. Easy mode lets me spend the minimum amount of time on it and focus on the story and exploration/looting instead. I appreciate that recent games have been adding more accessibility options, like auto item pickup. They have the curb-cut effect of benefiting abled folk like me.
Annual planning at work. It’s a much more intense process this year and has been contributing to my burnout.
Finally got our broken dishwasher replaced. The new one has a third shelf that feels like the ultimate luxury. I bet the 1% have four!
Week of Dec 5:
After more than a year’s break, I’m back on an on-call rotation. This was the first week, and thankfully, it was quiet (still a few hours to go though!). Among all the other times I’ve been on-call, this is the least informed and comfortable I feel about the domains I’m supporting.
One of my teeth needs a crown. Got a mold taken and a temp crown put in place while I wait for the real one (to be installed the week after). I’m noticing that despite having probably the best dentist I’ve had in my life I’m a lot more anxious about the visits.
Thanks to YT replaced a corroded bath tub drain, which despite taking only a few minutes felt like unlocking a new adulting level.
Adjusted the bridge on my electric guitar down. I had raised it when I first bought it a couple of years back as the buzzing sound when strings hit the frets annoyed me. I don’t mind that anymore. What I do mind is my fingers slipping off strings on high frets. Been particularly painful on a jazzy Yousician tune that uses a lot of 6th and 7th chords with half the strings muted. Couldn’t find the allen key that came with the guitar, so ended up ordering a variety set off Amazon.
Ordered an Orba 2. I want to eventually invest into a proper looper, but I love how accessible this little thing makes music creation. It may be something that I mess around with for a week and set aside, but that’s ok. I want to make it as easy as possible to engage my creative side.
Watched The Game Awards. I started following in 2017, but it’s only the third year that I do so live when it airs. I look forward to it! It’s hokey, and dorky, and I love it. I’m excited for Death Stranding 2 and Hades 2.
Started watching For All Mankind (S1), and Mythic Quest (S3)
Watched She Said. I love movies that show the slow and difficult work behind the major news events (even if fictionalized). Tough watch given the subject matter. Small thing I appreciated is the representation of husbands: they’re just doing normal parenting without it being a Big Deal.
The workweek after the trip was a mess. Half of it was playing catch-up, and the other thrashing about trying to juggle twenty things, significantly moving forward none. I realize now that I started the week without a clear intention. It was just about “catching up” and “seeing where the different projects are”, which put me in a reactive state, open to all sorts of interruptions. I mostly helped others with their work. By the time the weekend rolled around I was feeling used up. Refilling my cup took all the effort, so this post didn’t happen.
I felt pretty awful Sunday night going into this last week. I knew I needed a reset of some kind. The trigger was a one-on-one meeting I had with my manager who, after I asked if the way that I help my team works for them, wisely redirected the question to me: “does it work for you?” I’m constantly deprioritizing my own projects in favour of those that I think others expect me to support. I’m getting better, but still struggle to know when to jump in to help and when to let folks find their own way.
I made a couple of small adjustments to my home brew Trello-based todo system so it always shows:
My top priorities. These are the big projects and fuzzy work that’s important but tempting to postpone.
Snacks. These are small items that aren’t critical. Having them in a list lets me both avoid them when I’m trying pick the next most pressing thing to do and also pick one up when I just need a quick win.
I’ve found it easier to stay focused last week. Even just enumerating my top priorities has helped me settle. Like, “phew, I have enough important work on my plate. I don’t need to do more.”
Will Larson’s recent post on Reminiscing—retreating to areas where one’s had impact in the past— serendipitously popped up in my feed. I’m constantly feeling that pull, especially when I feel I’m not being effective in the work that I actually should be doing.
Speaking of reminiscing, C told me about High School, a TV show based on the namesake years of Tegan and Sara. Tegan and Sara! This Business of Art and If It Was You have been mainstays on my minidisc and later Zen Micro players in university. More recently, Heartthrob accompanied C and I on road trips to Montreal.
Anyway, I binged the entire season, pausing to do pharmacy and food runs for C who’s fighting off a virus. Our dishwasher going on strike meant picking up its slack while listening to Crybaby on repeat. Having no plans this weekend resulted in The Great Devouring of two months of their incredible Substack and watching probably too many YouTube interview videos. No regrets.
Enjoying Andor. Despite the annoying main character I like the (slightly) more mature take on the Star Wars universe. The lack of Jedi woo-woo and the spy-thriller doublespeak between rebels who’ve infiltrated the empire makes for a show much more intriguing than the rescue-and-escort missions that are Obiwan and The Mandalorian.
Reworked my backups setup a couple of weeks back. I had Duplicati running on my Unraid NAS in the past, but it kept corrupting or not being able to finish backups. Replaced with Kopia + Healthchecks.io for monitoring.
Spent a bit more time than usual practicing guitar this week. Learning movable chords on Yousician, where you have to barre three strings with the ring finger, such as C and D. This has been pretty challenging as my ring finger doesn’t actually bend at the distal knuckle. I’ve got a long way to go to make these chords sound good, but progress is being made!
The Stoke™ is still high post-Red Rocks, so climbing indoors has actually been more fun than usual. I find I have a bit more confidence and can push myself just a bit further before giving up. Flashed a couple of 11a’s last weekend, which hasn’t happened in years!
Running has decreased, on the other hand. I don’t have any more goals for the rest of the season after doing the half-marathon recently, and my knee’s been bothering me a bit since then, so now it’s just about maintenance until springtime.