the_barkeep

  • Right to Wrong

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    I’m regressing in chess big time. I’m like worse than average. What happened?

    One thing that happened is that instead of keeping on doing the things that helped me improve, I stopped doing pretty much all of it in favor of doing things that I KNOW aren’t good (exs. playing when tired, playing short-time games). Why do I do this with chess? Or exercise? Or diet?

    It’s so frustrating to do things, see results, and then…just stop. Why do I do that?

    I wonder if part of it is just sabotaging my progress. Even if it’s not that, intellectually I know changing inertia is harder than going with the flow. Why am I always insisting on starting and restarting and restarting the same things?

  • Cash is King!

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    It gets a little harder to NOT spend a bunch of money when you have money. But it’s easier when you think about better uses of it. I think cash is a nice barrier because you can’t just zap it to whoever on the internet. Dave Ramsey was onto something with the “Cash is King,” slogan.

    I think I’ll start taking my monthly “fun money” budget out in cash and stowing it in an envelope, or maybe a higher-yield savings account.

    Kind of fun to play with.

  • Buy-Free ’23

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    Thanks to a German artist I’ve only met on Mastadon, I found out about the “no-buy year” trend. I had never heard of this before, but my gf tells me that it’s quite popular on The Tok and the The Gram and what have you.

    [A quick note on socially-conscious and ethical trends – I think they’re great! I’m glad people are thinking about these things. As a guy who takes his faith in God very seriously, I am simultaneously glad our culture is thinking of these things, while also being pretty sad that the modern American church has no credible influence in these areas.]

    Anyways…

    The no-buy year experiment is a wonderful articulation of a feeling I’ve been having about 2023 in general – slowing down, looking around me, enjoying what I have. [See my 2023 reading plans for proof!] So I jumped on board with the no-buy year without much planning but with much enthusiasm.

    My rules are basically the same as everyone else’s, so I won’t include them here in detail. The only two interesting wrinkles –

    1. Giving is unlimited and emphasized.
    2. Per Paco De Leon’s advice, I’m keeping a kind of personal catalog of things I *might* want to buy in the future. Most things fall off quickly.

    How’s it going? So far, so great!

    The main thing I’ve noticed is that my decision fatigue is much lower. Unbeknownst to me, I had been spending a lot of time deciding whether to buy things or not. And, if so, deciding which version of the thing to buy. All that is gone.

    Another thing I’ve noticed is that things feel…slower, somehow. I can sit with what I have (books, video games I never played, comics, my zettelkasten) and enjoy them more.

    I’ll try and check in periodically with new observations.

  • 2023 reading plans

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    2023, in book shelf form.

    Un/fortunately, it’s common for me to read 60 – 85 books a year. In some ways this is great because of the breadth of experiences and learning I can get. In other ways, my reading life can become something of a chore. While I enjoy what I read, I sometimes feel the need to move on to one of the 1,000 other books waiting in line.

    In 2023, I’m trying purposefully to read fewer books. I don’t think I’ll read less, but I’ll read fewer books, more newspapers and magazines and web articles. Additionally, I’m also hoping to spend more time reading books I’ve previously purchased. Pictured above you’ll see most of the physical copies of books I already own that I haven’t yet read. I bought 2-3 of those with the plan to read them this year, but the rest are older.

    If you look closely, you’ll also see my new Kobo eReader lying on top of some of the books on the right side. Many of the books that I read “just for fun” (aren’t they all fun!?) might be more likely to be digital this year.

    I’m excited to read all of these, and I’m equally excited to take it easy in ’23!

  • My Year of Analog©

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    A confluence of events led me to, weirdly, “personal knowledge management”, the zettlekasten, notecards, fediverse, braincalm, et seq.

    As a result, I’ve decided that 2023 will be even slower than 2022 (which was, in the last quarter, pleasantly slower than the preceding years). Why slow? Because things are still too fast, too crowded. There’s not enough white space on the page, as it were.

    I need more room to think and exist and have fun. My Year of Analog© is kind of a misnomer on purpose. I don’t think there is anything inherently bad with electronics or digital versions of things. It’s not the screen time so much as how the screen time is used and what I expect from the screen time. What are some examples of things that will happen in TYoA? Reading, for example:

    • Fewer books
    • Reading more of what I own
    • Happy “Mediums” – Print, Dedicated eReader
    • Better manual notes/digestion of materials
    • More magazines
    • More WSJ/NYT

    Now that I’m not in higher ed, or a PhD program, or paying for notetaking software, I’m also excited about getting into my zettel system. I want to actually engage with what I’m reading and thinking about, find those connections, let it change me and vice versa. I have already noticed that it is helping me feel less fragmented and dis-integrated, because I don’t have pieces of myself all over the place.

    Similarly, I’m using the Johnny Decimal System to organize my files so I know where things are and I can finally feel comfortable with all the stuff (that’s putting it nicely) in my files and on the computer. What I have is known, more useful, and more fun. I like computers and tech and it’s nice when it’s clean and fun.

    I’m also a bit nostalgic lately for how much fun it used to be to get online. We don’t go online now so much as live with total connection. I don’t prefer that. I prefer it to be, like, a special occassion. It’s fun, frankly, to have your internet time be at a desk where you actually go sit, and intentionally look up whatever it is that you’re looking up. Then you close it down and you are whole again – not divided up amongst devices.

    So 2023 will be My Year of Analog©, even though of course I will use electronics. But I’ll use them when I want, and how I want. I think it’ll be fun!

  • starting lines

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    In my lil’ beginner running series on Nike Run Club, Coach Bennett briefly talks about how finish lines aren’t really a thing, so much as the next starting lines (I’m paraphrasing). I am really enamored with this idea.

    As a recovering perfectionist, the freedom from worrying about my finish time or outcome is…freeing? LOL.

    Perfectionism kind of…pollutes things that I otherwise enjoy. Or this fear that I will be unsuccessful (this was not a self-imposed fear – been working my way through that for years).

    Enjoying the tinkering and growth and playfulness of yoga, running, music, writing – I really enjoy that. It’s so much more optimistic and plain ol’ fun!

    Coach B’s starting lines…line….also reminds me of this passage from the Gita:

    You have a right to perform your prescribed duties, but you are not entitled to the fruits of your actions. Never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities, nor be attached to inaction.

    Bhagavad Gita 2.47.

    My engagement is the thing – the duty and even the joy; not what happens after.

  • greedy little hobbitses

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    While I love writing, the business of writing feels gross to me. But I get seduced by it, I do.

    It starts purely. “I want people to enjoy this thing I made, but how do I get it to them?”

    But, it’s a short trip from that genuine excitement to a…lust for attention.

    The “C” word – Content; mercenary, soulless Content. Blech.

    I just want to write good things. The rest – utter piffle!

  • solo spaceship

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    Whenever I am by myself in a room, and I know I will be in that room for awhile, I have a mental container:

    I pretend I’m in a spaceship.

    It’s not just any spaceship. It’s a little solo craft, and the living capsule/habitat is about as big as a room (whatever room I’m in).

    I can look out the window, but I know whatever I see is just a projection. It’s just me and the ship, and whatever it is I decide to do. Writing, reading, napping, stretching, catching up on some long overdue personal project I’ve been meaning to get to.

    The first time I remember thinking about this is maybe 10 years ago. I started writing a short story where most people go crazy on long solo journeys, but some “couriers” are comfortable by themselves for a long time. What’s different about them – does something in the way their brains work differ significantly from how others’ brains work?

    Looking back, I was probably trying to figure out something about myself.

    Now, though, I kind of like it. This little container, lit with lamps and no overhead lights, mostly quiet with intermittent hums and pings of air conditioning or pipes or electronics, shuttling me to whatever is next. Protecting me while I hurdle through space.

    Does anyone else feel cozy when they’re so alone?

  • Golden by Zorn & Marz

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    Golden articulates the zietgeisty feeling that our world and our minds are too daggum noisy. We need less less less, and we need things to quiet down. In this book, authors Zorn and Marz diagnose the problem, look at the benefits of silence, and then provide examples of how to bring more silence into our environment. By environment, I mean internal, communal, and global.

    First, what is silence? The authors make the point from the very beginning that silence isn’t the absence of noise so much a fullness of something else. (This is similar the related idea that peace isn’t the absence of violence or disagreement, but a kind of communal fullness or wholeness.)

    What’s in the way of silence? Everything! All the usual culprits – social media, Big Business, the U.S.’ general insistence on extraversion and contribution and production as a means of proving value. Even the Reagan administration takes a few hits here. The book also spends time exploring the idea that silence can be scary. What happens when we’re truly quiet in our minds and see things more as they are? We might not like what we see!

    The authors seek solutions from across the globe and across time. Many religious ideas and texts get some nods, including a falsely accused prisoner who turned to Buddhism to find silence in the noise, the iconic Christian mystic text The Cloud of Unknowing as a guide for finding peace in the unease of silence. If religion isn’t your thing, there’s also mention of silent dance retreats! And lots of nature.

    I have a feeling that this book will mostly reinforce the convictions and practices of people already looking for silence, rather than converting others to it. However, I did find several of the little practices immediately helpful.

    (Example: If a podcast stops streaming, just enjoy the silence instead of trying to fix it or launching a new one. The larger idea here is to observe silence in everyday instances rather than filling our aural spaces with unnecessary noise.)

    (Example II: Bringing walking shoes to work so I can enjoy the sunshine on my lunch break. The idea here is even quick fixes of nature – trees and birds and wind and sun – are helpful for us.)

    If you think this might be the book for you, it probably is. At least check it out from the library and jot down some of the “Thirty-Three Ways to Find Silence” at the end of the book. But, you know, don’t rush around to do it.

    PS – I listened to the audiobook version. Narrator Prentice Onayemi understood the assignment, as they say. Talk about some dulcet, soothing tones!

  • running down a dream

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    I signed up for a 5k in February. Three point one miles sounds like something that one should be able to do without having to do any preparation. It sounds like just, a, you know, a basic fitness thing.

    Unfortunately, I’m so sedentary and overweight and out of practice that I’m tre slow. I doubt I could just bang out a mile right now, let alone three of them in public.

    That’s why I signed up for this race. My poor overall health is interfering with my quality of life. I don’t have the energy to play with my family like I want to, I’m embarrassed by my body, reflux is constant.

    I don’t even know what happened. I was physically active for DECADES and then all of a sudden it just…stopped. “For reasons unknown,” to quote The Killers.

    I’m sure depression didn’t help. Having a family made it harder. Maybe getting older. Maybe hiding, somehow. (One hundred percent of posts on here thus far have featured me hiding my true self!!)

    Whatever the reason, I’m going to go ahead and download the daggum C25K app and train and invite my family to come watch me. Maybe we’ll start doing races together and it will become a cool tradition. Maybe I won’t have to hide so much, anymore.

    I’m scared and excited.

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