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Turning 38; life as a 37-year-old

| review, yearly

Despite the chaos and challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year was actually pretty good. We easily adapted to staying home with the occasional playdate or masked trip to the playground as A- became more interested in other kids.

We chose virtual learning for A-'s junior kindergarten, which turned out to be just right for A- and me. I loved seeing what the kids were up to and learning from how the teacher taught them, and A- enjoyed being able to mostly follow her own interests. I had fun incorporating A-'s obsession with Numberblocks into lots of playtime. We read hundreds of books together (both print and electronic), and I even got to read some grown-up books while waiting for her to be done reading at bedtime. I learned how to document her learning and organize my observations according to Ontario's kindergarten program. I was even able to help the class with tech support, materials, and donations. We've chosen virtual learning again for senior kindergarten. I hope it will be just as fun.

It was a good year for learning domestic skills. We enjoyed growing cherry tomatoes, bitter melon, and basil last year. This year, I added peppers, and I planted flowers in one of the boxes in front of the house. We've been enjoying a bounty of cherry tomatoes all summer, although I'm dealing with some powdery mildew. We learned more about preserving food, and we tweaked our kitchen layout to accommodate new tools and facilitate A-'s participation. I continued baking a loaf of bread every few days, trying out different recipes until we settled on a slightly modified version of this sourdough sandwich recipe. I learned how to make yogurt, too. Building on A-'s interest in Pride and Prejudice, I sewed her a bonnet, gloves, and many long dresses. I even sewed her a gown of bathing suit fabric that she wore to the splash pads. She was curious about knitting because of Numberblocks. I showed her how to knit and purl, and we worked on some hats and scarves.

I had a bit more discretionary time that mostly came from staying up late. I helped organize EmacsConf again, and I wrote some functions to help automate the things I needed to do. I also set up a calendar of Emacs events. Having developed a greater appreciation of captions and transcripts while trying to speed-read my way through more videos than I could fit in my focused time, I started editing captions for the EmacsConf recordings. That got me interested in possibly live-captioning EmacsConf and other things like it someday, so I ordered a Georgi keyboard and I've been teaching myself stenography with Plover. I mostly use it to write journal entries. I migrated my blog from Wordpress to 11ty because I wanted to use a static site generator that could be extended with Javascript, as it's a little hard to juggle different programming languages if I don't have much focused time. I ended up picking up more Python anyway, since I also wanted to extend Plover. I considered upgrading my laptop so that I could do streaming or video processing, but I'm still more constrained by time and energy than by hardware. Speaking of hardware, I've been learning more about mechanics. A- loved watching videos of Lego Great Ball Contraptions, so I learned how to build a few by following tutorials. I'm beginning to be able to figure out how to make do with Lego Technic, adapting the designs to the parts we have (and our desire to have as many modules as possible running simultaneously).

Last year, I wrote that I wanted to focus on:

  • Managing energy:
    • Sleep and managing my own plans: I slept less this year because I stayed up to do more consulting and personal projects. Fortunately, A- has learned to let me sleep in a little.
    • Enthusiasm: I like gardening and cooking, and A- often joins in. I like working on Lego Great Ball Contraptions while A- helps or reads, and she loves to watch the results. Learning stenography also makes it easier for me to patienty read lots of books since I can practise steno-ing parts of words while I read. Now that A-'s a good reader, we can take turns reading too.
    • Low-energy times: We have some screentime in our afternoon routine so that I can do household chores and get dinner together. That helps us get through some of the low-energy times.
  • Taking small steps: I did a pretty good job of learning about things in the small chunks of time I have, although I've been falling prey to revenge bedtime procrastination. If I get better at taking notes, it might be easier to convince myself to alternate days when I stay up with days when I go to bed early.
  • Making learning visible: My journal helped me capture lots of observations. I organized my notes and shared them with the teachers, who found them helpful when writing report cards. It was fun being able to review A-'s progress, too.

We're continuing with virtual learning until at least February, so next year will probably look somewhat like this year. We're figuring out quick dinners and other sanity-savers in case W- returns to working in the office a few days a week.

Over the next year, I want to:

  • Follow A-'s interests, document her learning, and learn how to support A-'s learning in key areas: Virtual kindergarten seems to mostly focus on literacy and math. A- is pretty comfortable with reading and math, but she's less keen on writing and drawing based on the teacher's prompts. I'll look for more ways to incorporate writing into the sorts of things she likes to do. We'll probably also need to focus on outdoor playdates for social interaction, since it's hard to connect on-screen. I'm learning more about helping her develop emotional self-regulation. She's pretty level-headed, but sometimes she's definitely five years old. That's okay! I'm learning too.
  • Plant more flowers in another front yard planter box: A- enjoyed picking flowers to put into a small pitcher on the table, so it might be fun to grow more flowers for cutting.
  • Take advantage of A-'s independent reading time to read and draw: A- usually likes to stay up another 15-20 minutes, so that's been a good time for me to read. If I take sketchnotes or I draw my thoughts, that will also help me feel like I've had some time to think. I can also get back to drawing moments. Those were fun.
  • Keep my priorities straight: It's tough having limited time to focus. I get tempted to stay up late because I don't have much time to myself during the day, and because it's easier to keep going when I have some code in my head than to figure it all out again the next time I get a chance. I'm less patient when I'm sleepy, though, so the price of feeling a little brilliant is feeling less than awesome as a parent. Reframing it might help. I'm choosing to be able to model self-regulation. I also want to have the energy and enthusiasm to learn from A-'s pretend play. Sure, it's fun geeking out and coding, but I can do that later on. A-'s availability and interest in helping me learn how to play is time-limited.


Blog posts

Aside from emacs-news and weekly reviews:


Category % 36 years % 37 years Diff % h/wk Diff h/wk
Discretionary - Productive 6.0 10.3 4.4 17.3 7.3
Personal 4.8 5.6 0.8 9.3 1.3
Unpaid work 4.4 4.5 0.1 7.6 0.2
Business - Build 0.2 0.2 0.0 0.3 0.0
Business - Earn 1.5 1.5 -0.0 2.5 -0.0
Discretionary - Social 0.6 0.1 -0.5 0.2 -0.8
Discretionary - Family 0.9 0.4 -0.5 0.7 -0.9
Discretionary - Play 1.3 0.3 -1.0 0.5 -1.6
A- 46.7 45.1 -1.6 75.6 -2.6
Sleep 33.6 31.9 -1.7 53.4 -2.8
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Weekly review: Week ending August 6, 2021

| review, weekly
  • I changed my borgbackup setup so that the server backups go to a different repo.
  • We had a big harvest of cherry tomatoes, so I started dehydrating them. I want to dry them to a crisp so that I can store them at room temperature more confidently.
  • We made vanilla mug cake to celebrate W-'s birthday. For fun, we topped ours with bitter melon slices, and A- topped hers with strawberries.
  • The Brickloot balls arrived, so we opened a bag and started using them in our LEGO Great Ball Contraptions. I learned how to use the 9V motors, so we were able to rig up the sloped stepper, the pinwheel, the ball pump, the S-capade, and the crane module in a loop.
  • I suggested some changes to the EmacsConf 2021 call for proposals.

Blog posts

Category The other week % Last week % Diff % h/wk Diff h/wk
Unpaid work 7.7 10.8 3.1 18.2 5.3
Discretionary - Family 0.2 1.6 1.4 2.7 2.4
Sleep 33.7 34.4 0.7 57.7 1.1
Discretionary - Productive 4.5 5.1 0.6 8.6 1.1
Business 0.7 1.1 0.4 1.8 0.7
Discretionary - Play 1.2 0.4 -0.8 0.6 -1.4
Personal 9.7 7.6 -2.1 12.7 -3.6
A- 42.4 39.1 -3.3 65.6 -5.6
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Weekly review: Week ending July 30, 2021

| review, weekly
  • I noticed the boxwood in front was infested by caterpillars. They seem to be box tree moths, an invasive pest, so W- uprooted and bagged the shrub.
  • The apple scrap vinegar is starting to bubble. Whee!
  • I made peach sorbet popsicles. Yum! It looks like they're another great way to use peaches.
  • We built a few more LEGO Great Ball Contraptions based on free instructions: Pinwheel, Ball pump, Mini elevator, S-Capade
  • I started memorizing the major number mnemonic system and the first hundred digits of pi. I made up silly images using Numberblocks and taught the major number system to A-. She quickly memorized my stories and the mnemonic sentences for pi, responding with the right numbers as I guided her through the sounds in "My turtle Pancho will, my love, pick up my new mover, Ginger. My movie monkey plays in a favourite bucket. Ship my puppy Michael to Sullivan's backrubber. Have a baby fish knife so Marvin will marinate the goosechick."
  • A- noticed that the screen door was open, so we closed it and the main door. A short while later, before we headed upstairs, she noticed that one of our cats was right outside the door. Whoops! We let the cat back in. Whew.

Blog posts

Category The other week % Last week % Diff % h/wk Diff h/wk
A- 36.3 42.4 6.1 71.2 10.3
Personal 7.1 9.7 2.6 16.3 4.4
Discretionary - Play 0.5 1.2 0.7 2.0 1.2
Discretionary - Productive 5.2 4.5 -0.8 7.5 -1.3
Discretionary - Family 1.5 0.2 -1.3 0.3 -2.2
Business 2.2 0.7 -1.5 1.1 -2.5
Unpaid work 10.3 7.7 -2.5 13.0 -4.3
Sleep 37.0 33.7 -3.3 56.6 -5.6

… It doesn't feel like I'm getting 8 hours of sleep on average. Hmm.

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Weekly review: Week ending July 23, 2021

| review, weekly
  • We built a step-based LEGO Great Ball Contraption and modified it to go in a loop.
  • I started steno again. To my surprise, I'm now at ~50 wpm on the simple drills.
  • I updated my business books, fleshing out my GIFI table and cleaning up a few entries. Now the taxmap generated from my GIFI table matches the taxmap ledger file I had manually written.
  • We arranged flowers into two little vases. A- put one in the bathroom.
  • We harvested and dried some mint. We did lots of canning, too.
  • I revived my sourdough starter from the backup in the freezer. Room-temperature water and some time in slightly warm incubation seems to have helped.
  • We made steamed buns and meringue cookies. It was a little stressful juggling two recipes and worrying about the effect of the humidity, but it worked out.
  • I sewed a nose wire onto one of A-'s free masks from St. Joe's.

Blog posts

Category The other week % Last week % Diff % h/wk Diff h/wk
Discretionary - Productive 1.3 5.2 3.9 8.8 6.5
Unpaid work 7.1 10.3 3.2 17.2 5.3
Discretionary - Family 0.0 1.5 1.5 2.5 2.5
Discretionary - Play 0.4 0.5 0.0 0.8 0.1
Sleep 37.2 37.0 -0.2 62.1 -0.3
Personal 8.6 7.1 -1.5 11.9 -2.5
A- 38.1 36.3 -1.8 61.0 -3.0
Business 7.3 2.2 -5.1 3.6 -8.6
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Monthly review: June 2021

| monthly, review
  • I added more features to my Emacs interface for Plover, including recent suggestions and completion with stroke information.
  • We tweaked the kitchen layout, bringing the cabinets upstairs, moving the cart around, and replacing the big table and chairs with a child-sized table. It's nice to have more storage and floor space, and A- can use the table more easily.
  • I shared seedlings and preserves with our neighbours.
  • I made a splash gown for A-.
  • We started helping A- learn badminton.
  • A- was able to push the merry-go-round, get on it while it was moving, and get off it while it was moving. She was able to match other kids' speed.
  • We harvested strawberries.

Blog posts


Category Previous month % This month % Diff % h/wk Diff h/wk
Unpaid work 5.4 7.9 2.5 12.8 4.1
A- 42.1 43.0 0.9 70.0 1.6
Discretionary - Family 0.0 0.9 0.8 1.4 1.4
Business 0.7 1.3 0.7 2.2 1.1
Sleep 31.6 31.8 0.2 51.8 0.4
Discretionary - Play 0.1 0.1 -0.0 0.1 -0.0
Discretionary - Social 0.1 0.0 -0.1 0.1 -0.1
Personal 6.6 5.9 -0.8 9.5 -1.3
Discretionary - Productive 13.3 9.1 -4.2 14.8 -7.1
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Monthly review: July 2021

| monthly, review
  • I got my second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, hooray!
  • We built LEGO Great Ball Contraptions.
  • A- and I played with a lot of math by extending Numberblocks: squares, cubes, greatest common factors, least common denominators, and memorizing numbers.
  • A- had lots of fun with forward and backward rolls.
  • We worked with kitchen clay and papier mache.
  • We harvested lots of basil and tomatoes. We also picked a few bitter melons.
  • I accidentally cooked my sourdough starter, but I was able to revive it from my backup in the freezer.

Blog posts

Category Previous month % This month % Diff % h/wk Diff h/wk
Sleep 31.8 36.1 4.3 62.8 7.2
Business 1.3 3.5 2.1 6.0 3.6
Personal 5.9 7.1 1.2 12.3 2.1
Discretionary - Play 0.1 0.6 0.5 1.1 0.9
Unpaid work 7.9 8.3 0.4 14.4 0.7
Discretionary - Social 0.0 0.0 -0.0 0.0 -0.1
Discretionary - Family 0.9 0.5 -0.3 0.9 -0.5
A- 43.0 39.3 -3.7 68.3 -6.2
Discretionary - Productive 9.1 4.6 -4.5 7.9 -7.6
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Weekly review: Week ending July 9, 2021

| review, weekly
  • Ugh, I broke my journal database by C-c-ing too much in panic. Thank goodness I had a backup of the MongoDB and I had copies of many of the entries in my Org archive. I tried reconstructing other entries from my steno strokes. I ended up restoring my journal from the Linode backup by making a new node.
  • I wrote an Emacs Lisp function for generating my invoices.
  • We got sick with a bad cold.

Blog posts


Category The other week % Last week % Diff % h/wk Diff h/wk
Sleep 30.9 38.0 7.1 63.8 12.0
Business 2.6 4.8 2.2 8.0 3.7
A- 40.0 41.0 1.0 68.9 1.7
Discretionary - Family 0.0 0.7 0.7 1.1 1.1
Discretionary - Play 0.3 0.3 -0.0 0.5 -0.1
Personal 5.5 3.2 -2.2 5.4 -3.8
Discretionary - Productive 9.7 6.4 -3.3 10.7 -5.6
Unpaid work 11.1 5.7 -5.4 9.6 -9.0
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