Let’s start off with some random bits:
I’m definitely a morning person now. Today, I woke up at 6 AM, because I could. This is a whole hour-and-a-half before my alarm clock usually goes off. I like this — waking up early is fantastic because it makes the day so much longer.
I have become the person whose apartment has seven piles of books in various places. I barely have place to put them; my bookcases are full, and I have three different bookcases.
On my day off (whit Monday), I I went through my physical inbox as well as my “to archive” box, and took care of all the admin stuff I needed to do. I’m proud.
I cycled to the old airport earlier this week. It’s abandoned, overgrowing. It’s weird how old something started to feel so quickly.
I found out how to rename Git branches this week:
git branch -m <oldbranchname> <newbranchname>. Good to know.
I’m discovering more about the reasons why I’ve been so interested in creative expression: I look for genuine human connection, to touch people on a raw emotional level. That applies both to fiction writing and acting.
Over the past few months, maybe even years, I’ve increasingly had the urge to create things that mean something to people. I want to inspire people with what I create. I want to touch them emotionally; make them feel.
The urge to express myself creatively has even been manifesting itself physically: I feel like I have knot in my heart, a knot formed by the desire for an emotional release, a creative release. Physical manifestation of the need to be emotionally creative? Weird.
I might be a far more emotional person than I ever thought.
What I do at my day job is not at all like that. My job, crudely put and oversimplified, is to take existing product requirements and define engineering requirements and translate those requirements into code. To some extent, that process needs creativity, but nobody’s ever impressed with the changes I make — not because they’re bad changes, but because the whole thing is just not meant to be impressive. I feel like I don’t need to say this out loud, but people generally don’t get emotional reactions with code like they do with art.
To help me express myself creatively, I picked up a few books on fiction writing. Writing is hard, and I’ll take any hints or guidance that I can find. Writing, at least, is something I have full control over: I can do it whenever I want, and I’m not dependent on anyone else.
Acting is quite different. You can’t apply acting skills just by yourself. Time will tell how well I will be able to eventually put those acting skills to the test. It’s a big open question for now.
For acting, I’ve found some line memorization techniques that work quite well for me.
For dialogue, I record the other characters’s lines, leaving room to speak out my own lines. Then I play it back, saying my own lines.
For monologues, I copy the text but write down only the first letter of every word, keeping the punctuation, and keeping each sentence on its own line. Something like this:
WWAT,AU. A,TTOU,MGAI. IHHTAH,HMMFFMT. CYPMT,CYPMT,TTTTT. JTBM,TMMPATTOW.
For long stretches of words without punctuation, I also add something akin to musical slurs to subsentences, for that tiny bit of extra clarity. With that in hand, I can reproduce the monologue.
I used to be terrible at memorizing anything. Perhaps I just lacked the right technique (and maybe motivation). Also, take this with a grain of salt — I’m not memorizing anything large just yet.
Yikes: I hit a kid with my bike this week.
I rang my bike bell but the kid walked onto the bike path anyway. When I swerved to avoid them, the kid realized their mistake and jumped back — unfortunately right into the path of my bike.
The kid fell over. I checked in with them and they weren’t hurt too badly — just scraped skin, though I imagine it’ll turn out to be a bruise later. They apologized and after a minute or so to catch our breath we both went on our way. I think the biggest damage was the scare.
The irony is that not ringing my bell would have likely avoided the situation.
This is also the first time ever hitting anyone with my bike, as far as I remember. So that’s good, I guess.
Last weekend, in my old village in Belgium, a mysterious unidentified organic substance fell from the sky. It now appears to have originated from a military aircraft. (There’s a Dutch-language news article about it.)
You cannot convince me that this is not an episode from The X-Files. The truth is out there.
More progress on my quest to avoid social media! On my phone and laptop, I have blocked Twitter and set up a strict five-minute screen time limit for Mastodon. An interesting side effect is that because my time is so limited, I figured I’d only visit it when I really needed or wanted to, which turns out to be almost never.
Life without social media is pretty good. You should try it too.
I’m becoming more of a luddite by the day.
Work this week was different but not better than last week (see Weeknotes 2023 W21: Anniversary). It’s… a little wild:
There is still no clarity on the requirements I mentioned last week, but we’ve decided to go ahead with implementing what our gut tells is right, using the technique to Get people on board with (breaking) changes by radiating intent. This will remove the risk of us/me getting the blame for not delivering despite the absence of requirements.
A coworker is refusing to let me make changes to their codebase, because I would make a mess and their job is to keep the codebase healthy. (I’m a staff software engineer.)
One particular task I completed a while ago kept getting marked, over and over again, as “incomplete” by a stakeholder, with no information given about why, despite asking for clarification and providing materials/deliverables showing it is complete.
I know that communication and collaboration is hard. This week, though, it feels like people aren’t even trying.
The work situation has manifested itself psychologically — I feel quite drained — but also physically: I’ve been struggling with back pain that makes it hard to focus, and on occasional makes it hard to even sit in a chair. I do have a new exercise mat, a foam roller, and a massage ball, which have been so useful. (Maybe I should get those expensed.)
On the bright side: during a long, healthy 1:1 with a coworker, they said that talking to me is like magic. Aaaawww!!! (How can I do more of this?!)
Uhh, nothing, it seems. I didn’t even watch the new episode of Silo (I seem to be not very into it).
I’m at the halfway mark through House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. It’s very good.
I picked up Atomic Habits by James Clear. I’ve been fairly successful at changing my habits (see e.g. Weeknotes 2023 W09: Goal cards) but I wanted a more systematic approach, which this book is quite good for.
I started with Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee. Even though it’s aimed at screenwriters, the consensus seems to be that it’s relevant for any writer. Since I am specifically struggling with larger story structures when I’m writing, this book seems quite appropriate.
I also bought a copy of Anatomy of a story by John Truby, and Story Engineering by Larry Brooks, but I’ve not started with either.
Slide to unlock: It starts easy, but gets hilariously difficult. Let me know how far you get.
“I’m a Barbie girl” but it’s a three voice fugue! (Josep Castanyer Alonso): No notes. Life in classic: it’s fantastic.
Bread knives are always clean (Julie Nolke): Eww!
More serious links:
Too Many People are Going Outside (Wendover Productions): Whoa.
The Droids are ruining Star Wars (Nando v Movies): Well, here’s a thing I never thought about, and now I’m freaking out.
I Cut My Plant’s Roots In Half… And This Happened (Sheffield Made Plants): This has been quite insightful and absolutely relevant to my plants.
Why fake punches in movies look real (Vox): It’s not quite the point of the video, but I will say that I find it rather cathartic to see people getting punched.
How Capitalism Causes Loneliness (Second Thought): This resonates.