Day 939: Not-Sewing Monday

Yesterday turned out to be more a “print things out and tape them together and then cut them up” day than a sewing day; I mean, it’s part of sewing, but there’s a lot of pattern-preparing work that I had sorely underestimated.

That and change rolling. We had a lot of change!

Speaking of rolling, things are rolling along nicely. Weight’s stable, exercise is on point M-F, I’m not eating stupid. Setting it up nicely for a good run into autumn.

Day 938: Sewin’ Sunday

Heading out in a few minutes to get some coin rolling papers — we’re doing the three-year dump of coins, to help defray the upcoming cost of a family visit — and print out a shirt pattern my wife bought me, so I can start sewing my own “summer shirts.”

Why pay others for garish weird short-sleeves when I can garish my own weird short-sleeves?

There’s an interesting space for “fun projects” in my head; it’s hard to separate work and projects. Playing video games is a fun thing, for instance. Reading a book is relaxing. But sewing, renovation stuff, building furniture… it’s not fun in the way that a video game is fun, but it’s still a leisure time pursuit and should be fun? I think?

I certainly like the end results, so that must make the middle parts worthwhile. Does a fun result mean the pathway was also fun? Or is sewing “leisure work” with a fun outcome?


Day 854: Game Substitutes

It’s been a couple of weeks since my big burnout day, and I think dropping video games (and podcasts) has been good for me since then. It’s a bit like food (and booze) — can I find healthy substitutes?

Unhealthy substitutes to date:

  • Garbage movies. I’ve dropped my Netflix subscription, so unfettered bad content is no longer at my fingertips, but I have have access to a friend’s Plex server and have been ravaging it for diverting, “nutrition-free” science fiction and comedy.
  • Comics, either on my iPad or from the library
  • Books! I mean, like, novels. This gets weird, because it dives right into literary snobbery and kind of crappy hair-splitting. I’m reading In the House in the Dark of the Woods right now, and I’m not sure whether that’s candy or a vegetable, or even if I should be trying to draw these distinctions.

Healthy substitutes:

  • Educational books! I really should finish Ryan North’s How to Invent Everything, because it’s great and I feel like I’m a better person when I read it.
  • Like, really serious novels for serious people, like I read The Good Lord Bird and felt like I was reading Important Books.
  • Non-garbage movies. My friend has Boyhood as well as Neighbors on his Plex server. Guess which one I watched?
  • Practicing a musical instrument
  • Working on figuring out how to make electronic music on my computer
  • Working on my danged book
  • A few other projects/hobbies
  • Canoeing / outdoors time

I guess I’m still hoping for a magic transformation where I become a doer of culture instead of a consumer of not great stuff, or at least a consumer of great stuff. How does that happen?

Planning, probably.

My wife’s also encouraging me to read “The F*ck It Diet”, which I’ve kind of read — it’s now in a category of books I think of as “Blinkists”, where there’s a good idea, and about 250 words of actual content in every chapter, and 10,000 words of anecdotes, repeating the same thing in different ways, and personal rambling to pad it out to book length. But the core is interesting. I’ll get into it another time.

Here’s an interesting question for me to ask myself: it’s May. What, in September, would I regret not having done this summer? It’s a good way to find focus.

Day 357: Relaxing and Guilt

It’s (a) Sunday and (b) Christmas Eve’s Day. If there’s one day a year that literally demands hanging out in one’s sweatpants and doing nothing of import, this is pretty much it.

And yet — one of the joys being me — I will be feeling acute guilt at some point today. Either for relaxing when I could be doing something. Or doing something when I should be relaxing. Or not relaxing by doing the right thing.

I’m a mess, folks.

So my goal for today is to eat well (which wasn’t done yesterday — not a ton of terrible food, but a lot of it), and just… chill the eff out, you know? Try not to worry too much about what I’m doing and just relax and enjoy the day. Calm the chatter.




Day 317: Posting Promptly

I sat down to do this about 20 minutes ago. It’s not all wasted time since then, but most of it has been… browsing Facebook, looking at a couple other things on the web, just sort of mentally puttering.

I’m not a productivity demon. I understand the value of dithering. But I don’t care for “lost time” dithering, which is what’s just happened. I literally can’t account for what I’ve done for the last while. It’s the mental equivalent of… grazing? That might not be the metaphor. But it’s not great, in terms of I don’t feel great coming out of it.

This comes up from time to time: leisure with intent, as opposed to leisure as filler. I’m all for leisure. Love it! I just gotta bear in mind that I enjoy leisure more when I’m deliberately leisuring. As opposed to spacing out on the Internet.

I know this podcast is cyclical, and seems to be a long sequence of things that I intend to do, drop off, and pick up again. But “leisure with intent” is definitely on the list of things to pick up again. I genuinely feel I’m better about it than I was a year ago.

So here’s a mental exercise for me to try: any time I switch activities, I ask myself what are you about to do, and why? Maybe this is a dumb idea that will be exhausting after 15 minutes. I have a short attention span. I task-switch a lot. 

But… okay, I don’t know how I’ll manage to do this. Maybe I’ll just try to set my mind to it now and see how it goes today. Maybe tie a string around my finger to remind myself? Hm. Anyway, it’s worth considering as a tactic. Intention before action.


Day 211: Day Off

Still basking in the quiet glory of my 18k yesterday, and taking my first proper rest day from exercise in quite a while. The day off isn’t total loafing: I have this to do, and the video game show, and a lunch meeting about 3k away which I’ll be walking or biking to.

If you want to avoid a totally sedentary lifestyle, ditch the car.

I’m actually feeling better today than yesterday about the run. And I’m feeling fine. Sore feet, but my knees are okay. Which is a huge relief.

I didn’t even do that bad with food; too many cookies in the evening, but hey, I ran 18k.

So this is a bit of a kick in the pants (positive) in terms of getting things in gear. Also, Stitcher Premium is turning out to be an investment in my running: Eugene Mirman on the 9k out, and John Mulaney on the 9k back, made the time… not fly by, but it went. And it’s kind of hard to run uphill while laughing. Bonus discovery: Mulaney’s sober! Like Dan St. Germain, a really nice discovery out of the blue.

My day off is kinda a work day.

Podcasts are the morning, and probably a bit of yardwork. A work lunch. This afternoon, more setup work on the side hustle thing, which is turning into more work for a side hustle than I expected.

So it’s going to be a gentle work day; starting with this podcast, then moving into a lot of stuff putting music into files. Which is a fairly cool way to spend a morning. Then it’s off to the races for a work meeting, lunch, and other… stuff.

And that’s it for vacations for the year. Well, two days in mid-August. It’s been a less than great year, vacation-wise. The experiment’s been worthy, but I definitely prefer blocks of time away to staycation/long weekends.


Day 203: Minor Distractions

Doing the video game music show has been an interesting education. But I think I’ll be ready to let it go at the end of the summer. I’ve learned a bunch of stuff and met great people. At the end of the day, though, it’s not a core interest for me. I don’t make music, and I don’t have time to play a lot of games. In fact, games are qualifying more and more as minor distractions.

There’s an old saw that one in ten Americans read books, and one in ten Canadians write them. I don’t think that’s true, but I definitely sympathize with the “don’t just consume, create” mentality.

I keep getting caught up in minor distractions, though. It’s hard to separate what’s “necessary leisure” with what’s “wasting time”. If I kill 30 minutes playing an iPhone game, is that depressurization I need? Or just a pointless distraction?

One of the things about games is it, well, gamifies all this stuff. If I were playing the game of my life, there’d be gauges. I’d be able to Tamagotchi myself. When my stress gauge is at eighty percent, give myself two units of game. When my productivity gauge is at twenty percent, allocate eight work units.

But we obviously don’t work like that. It’s not easy to Tamagotchi your life when you yourself are the virtual pet.

Minor distractions and major needs often conflict.

I enjoy minor distractions while I’m being distracted, but finishing a day without feeling like I’ve moved something forward distresses me. So there’s a constant tension between “relax and live your life” and “you are going to die someday.” It makes minor relaxation hard.

A more disciplined person might be able to allocate things better. 1.2 hours of allocated fun from 8:12 to 9:26 a.m. this morning. But that’s just not how I’m wired. Should it be? Is this something I should be striving for?