Weeknotes 2023 W10:

Week of March 6th, 2023

I finally had that dentist appointment for fixing a few of my cavities. More appointments needed to fix the rest, but I am so happy that there is progress.

I got lazy and didn’t sign up for insurance, but it looks like it might’ve not been worth it anyway. €400-something in total isn’t too bad.

I’m excited for my holiday in Amsterdam coming week. The next week­notes will likely be much more terse. We’ll see!

I have a printer now! It’s a monochrome laser printer, which is all I need.

Having a printer will make the unavoidable administrative work easier. It’s good to have friends that want to print out things for you (thanks Tom), but having my own printer is a relief.

I can now print letters and envelope labels, and the print-at-home postage stamps eliminates the need for me to go to a post office to send letters. This is extremely exciting! (Yes, I am fully aware of how silly my excitement is. Let me have my moment!)

Now that I have a printer, I can also use it to print out the stories I write. Which I did, in booklet form:

Apologies for the terrible stapling job I did there.

Creating a booklet isn’t entirely obvious, primarily because the pages need to be in a specific order. For example, for an eight-page booklet, the pages need to be in this order: 8, 1, 2, 7, 6, 3, 4, and 5.

Reordering the pages manually would be a pain, but luckily, I found pdfbook2, a command-line tool that takes away the pain of creating booklets. It works as follows:

  1. Have a PDF with A5 pages. This is your source document. Let’s call it stories.pdf.
  2. Run pdfbook2 --short-edge --no-crop stories.pdf. This will generate a new file, stories-book.pdf , combining the A5 pages into A4 pages, with the pages in the correct order.
  3. Print out the newly generated PDF, double-sided, and with short-edge binding.
  4. Take the stack of printed papers, fold it in the middle, and staple it. Done!

Before I found pdfbook2, I was looking for ways to do it with macOS apps. I couldn’t find anything that worked well. I’m reminded that knowing how to use the command line is a superpower.

As a silly life hack, I started filling up the washing machine right before I go to bed, and start it with a delay of a few hours. By the time I wake up, the wash is done and all I have to do is hang it out to dry.

It’s like magic! The laundry is happening while I sleep! It’s as if sleeping is what causes the laundry to be done! It’s fantastic.

I think I need a physical clock. I’m rather tired of looking at my phone or the computer just so I can figure out what time it is.

I’m thinking of a big one, with analog arms for minutes and seconds, visible from the kitchen, the living room, dining room, and office. (It’s all one big room anyway.)

Having a physical clock would probably also help with getting a better sense of time. Tick tock.

For the last few weeks, I’ve had this odd sensation of envying creative people. That might be a strong indicator that I am desperately lacking a way to channel my own creative energy.

There are two things I used to do, but haven’t done in a few years now:

Both of these gave me the sense of social creativity. I also particularly enjoyed performing live. It’s exhilarating. Even with all the necessary preparation, coming on stage is always tense (even, though to a lesser extent, when rehearsing). Delivering something one-off is special, too — no two performances are identical. It creates a connection both with fellow performers and with the audience.

I’m certainly not an expert on playing Gamelan or giving talks. I got something special out of doing both, though. While I might not return to play Gamelan, I’m definitely looking to pick up giving talks again.

Perhaps I need to think about other things to do, too — things that give me a similar sense of satisfaction, a similar thrill. Vocal training and singing lessons are no doubt going to open doors (if I keep an open mind).

A friend suggested picking up acting. I’ll admit that the thought terrifies me. I’d be absolutely terrible starting out, and so my brain is telling to not even try! Still, acting classes could give me skills that I could apply elsewhere too. Giving a good conference talk, for example, definitely could benefit from such skills.

Picking up entirely new skills later in life — I’m in my 30s now — is difficult, too. I feel like doors are closing, though I wonder how much of that is just in my mind. As a kid, it’s entirely acceptable to start learning a skill, starting from scratch with zero knowledge and perhaps even no inherent talent. As an adult, I feel like everyone would judge me and I’d become the subject of ridicule. (That’s not just me, right?)

Gamelan was nice to get into, because getting started with it is remarkably easy. Showing up to the rehearsals is 90% of the task. Gamelan has instruments that fit everyone’s skill level, and there is no training — you just start playing. A few weeks after I started, I had my first live performance before a genuine audience, and it was… just fine.

I am fully aware that gaining any skill is going to take years of continuous effort. That seems like a lot, but if I’m enjoying it, it will be worth it.

I do wonder whether I’d be overstretching myself, though. Giving a talk, for example, is not at all a trivial task. A good conference talk needs brainstorming for the content, subject matter research, and proper structuring. It needs to make narratively sense, and it needs to engage the audience (tension! storytelling). It needs to make good use of the English language. The delivery and vocal performance need attention, too. Lastly, the slides and visuals need to support the content, structure and delivery, and be well designed, too. It’s a lot.

In my last week­notes, Weeknotes 2023 W09: Goal cards, I wrote about bonus programs. I think I was too vague on how I feel about them: in almost all cases, it’s better to have a higher base salary than to have the possibility of a bonus.

If the bonus depends on company performance, then that’s almost entirely outside of your control. As an employee, no matter how good of a job you do, the impact on how well the company is doing (financially) will be minimal.

If the bonus depends on your personal performance, the story is different. But it’s worth asking yourself if getting a higher bonus is worth the effort you put in. It’s my opinion that the extra effort is better put to other uses: for example, use that effort for personal improvement or creative endeavors! I believe that improving yourself is worth so much more, especially in the long term, than the tiny financial bonus you might (or might not) get.

I’m drafting up an entry for the Brighton Ruby lightning talks CFP.

I’d love to talk about the power of the weird creative energy that the Ruby community has always had. (_why is the prime example here.) It’s important to keep that around, especially because there is a shift in attention towards more corporate tech.



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Week­notes for week of March 6th, 2023. Browse the weeknotes archive, get these week­notes via email or subscribe to the web feed.