Weeknotes 2023 W35:

Week of August 28 to September 3, 2023
What are these? These week­notes are a reflection on the past week. I write about anything from hobby projects and work to creativity and mental health. I publish my week­notes every Sunday morning. Consider subscribing via email or using the web feed!

Quick bits:

I got myself a Fitbit. It’s been on my wishlist for a while. My primary interest is getting some health metrics.

One thing it made me aware of is that my resting heart rate is rather low — in the 50s, occasionally dipping into the 40s. The normal range is 60 – 100. Something to talk to my cardiologist about — luckily I’m having an appointment next week.

One more advantage: always having the time with me is certainly useful too. It is something I’ve missed when going on walks without my phone, which I wrote about in Week­notes 2023 W30: Rain.

My giant writing project starts very soon. As I wrote about in Week­notes 2023 W34: Rome, I’m ready to participate in the Alphabet Superset project. Coming week is the first real week of work. My anxiety is mounting.

I blocked off every morning from 8 AM to 9 AM purely for writing. The plan for each week (and each story) is as follows: have a first draft ready on Monday or Tuesday, a second draft by Friday, use Saturday to polish it into a publishable story and add the appropriate content warnings, and publish it on Sunday. I might not need all that time (7 hours per week is a lot) but at least I will not struggle to find time.

Initially, I had time blocked off in the evenings rather than mornings, but I think mornings are better suited for creative work. It also puts less pressure on evenings, which means I’m more flexible to be social then.

I’m a little terrified. This is a huge project, bigger than anything I’ve undertaken before, with weekly deadlines. But if all goes well, I’ll have 26 macabre short stories at the end of this whole project, and that is an outcome I really look forward to.

The first story: Abattoir. I will, erm, need some content warnings on that one. (Fun fact: I only learnt how to correctly spell “abattoir” this week.)

Some people have asked me whether I intend to turn writing and acting into a career. It’s not something I had thought about before, and the answer is most likely no: turning this into a career will suck the joy out of it. (I’ll also need way more experience as a writer and an actor before that is even feasible anyway.)

More and more, I’m seeing my day job (a well-paid software engineering job that I am quite good at) as the thing that provides the means to sustain myself and to have a meaningful life.

Turning writing and acting into a career will likely mean sacrificing my values. I can see that with my software engineering job to a certain degree: none of the jobs I’ve ever had were truly what I wanted to do. They were close, but not quite there. The two software engineering projects that were the closest were closecontact and nanoc: unpaid projects created in spare time. My spare time is the time where I’ll be able to work what really matters, whether it’s writing or acting or writing software with a purpose; my day job provides the financial means to make that possible.

At work, I’ve finally moved on from the giant project that was stuck without requirements since September (I wrote about this in Week­notes 2023 W28: Lakeside), but now I’m on a new project where there is so much misalignment that I’m blocked from making progress there, too.

Alignment, or lack thereof, is a problem at my current employer. A gargantuan amount of my time is spent talking to people, coordinating, and attempting to align, rather than getting real work done, and even after spending so much time, the alignment still often isn’t quite there.

My assumption is that most of the conversations happen behind closed doors, in private conversations, private channels, private project boards, and so on. There have been days where I saw so little chatter and conversation that I had wondered whether that day was a public holiday I forgot about.

I had been gently pushing towards an approach of open by default, but I need to push harder. I am fond of the “open by default” approach because it means anyone can keep themselves up to date on projects they are interested in. It allows people to opt in to conversations when they have something to bring to the table. It is an approach that breeds trust and facilitates quick and early alignment.

This approach doesn’t require everything to be open — some things are sensitive, after all. It makes openness the default: unless there is a justification, keep the conversation open, accessible to anyone.

My view on wealth has been shifting lately.

The observation I had back when I was living in Belgium is that most people deal with money by saving as much as possible and living carefully, spending little.

More recently, I’ve become of the opinion that money by itself is useless until the point that you spend it. As a corollary, any money that you have accumulated and not spent by the time you die is wasted on you. (Lawrence Yeo makes a similar point in The Nothingness of Money)

My new opinion seems to suggest that money is best spent as quickly as possible, so that it becomes useful as quickly as possible. This is not to say that I’m planning to spend it on anything that I fancy; I still budget diligently and spend money on things that matter: quality physical items (like kitchen equipment), but also transient experiences with a lasting effects, such as education (like acting classes) and insightful travel experiences (like my trip to Rome).

Perhaps I’m looking for ways to turn my earnings into meaning. Psychological wealth, not material wealth.



Week­notes for August 28 to September 3, 2023. Browse the weeknotes archive, get these week­notes via email or subscribe to the web feed.