Upstairs cabin of a Go Transit train. All seats are empty.

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.

hollowed-out tree trunk curled inside

Short-form notes are all I can manage right now:

  • Mastodon
  • Work is stressful right now and I’m part-time just managing burnout symptoms. Looking forward to my upcoming vacation starting Dec 16th.
  • I’m a bit sad that the surf-skating and biking season is over. However, excited for winter running. Need to get new traction spikes for my running shoes as last season’s rusted.
  • Still on a Tegan And Sara binge. I’ve had Hell stuck in my head all day today.
  • Discovered the ADHD Nerds podcast. It’s helping normalize some of my behaviours and feelings.
  • Went for a hike in Ardaugh Bluffs with C yesterday. Muddy after the recent snow-melt, but great to get away from home for a while.
  • No video games in the past few weeks, but C and I are still enjoying Andor (working through it slowly), and I just started watching Meltdown.

Railroad in the fall

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:

  1. My top priorities. These are the big projects and fuzzy work that’s important but tempting to postpone.
  2. 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.


Miscellanea:

  • 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.

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.