When I was in first grade, our class visited The Daily News and saw how newspapers were printed. When we got back to the classroom, our teacher had us collaboratively create a newspaper that she printed on a mimeograph, which used blue ink that smelled great.
I think she went through a real newspaper and pulled out topics. So, we were assigned “articles” to write on Sports, Science, Politics, International News, etc. It was 1977, so there are prominent mentions of Jimmy Carter, Pele, and the oil crisis.
I had to write about “Neighborhood News”—here’s my article in full:
Looking at it, here’s where my current work is similar to my 1st grade work.
I try to keep it short
I mostly write about what I am seeing/experiencing (we passed by that Pathmark construction site every day).
But, now that I’m working alone, I do miss having some interactivity with people during the day, so I am trying out a co-working space once a week. Today is my 2nd day.
Some random thoughts.
I am really glad I brought noise cancelling headphones. It’s just enough (along with listening to ocean sounds) to drown out the one-sided zoom meetings when I am trying to code or write (luckily, it seems to be somewhat rare).
Sitting by a window is nice. It’s on the third floor across the street from a residential neighborhood. All I see are shade trees, rooftops, and the big blue sky. At home, my window is on my left, slightly behind me. This gives me a place to stare to rest my eyes.
The weather is hot enough for shorts and a t-shirt, but like everywhere else in Florida, when you get inside, they have the AC cranked up. I get to wear jeans, which I miss.
I thought I would miss my monitor more. They have a place to store one, and I was already planning to do that, but I’m getting a lot done right now without it. If that keeps up, I probably won’t bother.
Doing this on Mondays sets up the week well. I guarantee that I won’t have a meeting (because I am blocking the whole day). I would not have done that if I was working from home. Since I end each week with a plan for the next week, I can just get going when I get here.
They have regular and counter-height desks. You can stand at the latter.
The first 13 weeks of the year ends on my birthday, and so each year I try to set up those months to try new things. It’s not a resolution or a goal, but more of a direction to explore. This year, I’m trying to make “make more art”, where “art” is very loosely defined. To start, I’m doing more sketching, writing, and I’m even going to drop in on an improv group.
I journal in a Recurring Journal I made last year for 2023 — it splits the year into four 13 week cycles where you journal the same day in the cycle on the same page spread. So, on April 3rd, I’ll be journaling on the same page as January 2nd. The idea is that I can see some progress and renew my energy for the next 13 weeks.
In 1983, in the wood shop of JHS 125 in Woodside, Queens, perhaps sensing my frustration in making a spice rack, my teacher asked if I’d rather be in “computer shop”. Mr. Abbey had good instincts.
My new shop teacher, Mr. Penner, gave us each a sheet of graph paper and told us to count 80 columns and 25 rows and draw a picture by filling in squares. I drew a skull (I think it might have been getting close to Halloween). Next, he taught us enough BASIC so that we could write a program to draw our pictures on the screen.
I really try to put most of what I make out there, whether it’s code in GitHub or random thoughts here on this site. But, the truth is that I have a lot of half-baked (tenth-baked?) stuff on my drive. Also, I am doing more work that has to be private, but I am actively looking to lower the bar and share more.
One class of things I don’t share is vector drawings that I make mostly for my apps or to practice graphic design. But, I really wanted to make my own t-shirts with some of them, so I submitted to Cotton Bureau and opened a store a few days ago. You can check them out on my t-shirt page. My favorite is PET Skull, which is based on my first real program. You can use the coupon [USP6ZBJXUS] for 10% off until the end of 2022.
As I mentioned in my post about recurring journals, I decided to write a python program to create a PDF that implemented my riff on the Da Capo journal. I finished it enough to share, and put it on GitHub. It’s called Page-o-Mat.
To make it more generally useful, instead of hard-coding this particular journal, I made it read a configuration file that can be used to describe lots of journaling styles.
Right now, the paper and page types are what I needed for my 2023 journal. I am about to do a test-run with getting it printed on LuLu. After that, I might make some more page templates.
The config file is in YAML. You could just list each page you want one-by-one, but to make things easier, there are a few ways to create enumerated pages.
Any page could have a count, which just repeats that page
Any page can have a variant list, which repeats the page, setting a variable that can be used in titles
Pages can have lists of sub-pages, and so on.
Pages can have sections
In the code, it’s implemented with nested loops and recursion. The indices of those loops are exposed to the config to use in date math, so that any section of any page can have a date calculated for it. Most journals would probably have sequential dates, but a recurring journal wants you to keep cycling back to the beginning of the book, so the date math is fairly complicated.
There are documented examples in the repo that (hopefully) explain this better. Start with daily.yaml, which is just a 365 page daily journal. 2023-recurring-journal.yaml shows the more complex example.
This kind of podcast could not just be played in your regular playlists though—you need to be at your computer ready to listen. It could guide you in a vague way, so that you have to think in order to do the tasks, not just listen while you exercise.
At the time I was thinking about a programming podcast, and that somehow you listened while you were doing tasks it described.
But this ultimately turned into Write While True, which is a podcast that ends with a writing-related exercise that you do right after it’s over. So, not exactly what I thought it would be, but more of a prompt. I do believe in hacking your behavior via prompts, so this is good with me.
I write in this blog everyday, but I cannot come up with anything to say in Twitter. I think it’s because I think no one’s watching here.
I mean, no one’s watching on Twitter either. But that feels more like being ignored, where this place is just more secluded.
In episode 10 of Write While True, I talked about why I blog every day. It’s because I’m trying to build up a body of work, mostly not that great, in the hope that that helps me become a better writer. Also, I find it enjoyable in of itself, and it helps with my self-esteem to “do things”.
Twitter offers none of that. I don’t find it that enjoyable, and the instant judgement is the opposite of what I want.