Weekly Head Voices #166: Morgan Bay

Amazing view from a rather precariously installed bench on the hills above Morgan Bay.

In this, the 166th edition of the WHV, I attempt to peer back at the two weeks from Sunday March 11 to Sunday March 24, 2019.

If you like, you may imagine that this looks like somewhat like the photo above, although the photo above was in fact just me peering out over the sea, while I generally just sit hunched over some form of keyboard when writing these posts.

Blogosphere housekeeping.

In my eternal quest to avoid the new Gutenberg editor in WordPress (now at version 5.1.1), this and the previous post were typed up in Orgmode, and then copy-pasted from the Emacs-exported HTML.

On being powerless.

Years of corruption, in most cases made possible by the current ruling party, the ANC, have left our electricity-producing monoply, Eskom, in shambles.

Billions of rands disappeared into the pockets of dishonest types, instead of being invested into the maintenance and upgrades of our power generation and distribution network.

The result of all of this, is that the country currently has to deal with stage 4 load shedding, which means that electricity is completely shut off for 2.5 hours, three times a day.

This has to be done in order to prevent a total grid shutdown, which would result in a two to three week national electricity outage whilst the grid has to be started back up again.

You can read more about the details in this Business Insider article.

Anyways, although there are many worse problems than this in the world today, these 7.5 powerless hours every day are a fairly visceral reminder of the utterly disappointing lack of integrity and leadership in our government.

At a more microscopic level, I am again spending far more time than usual on twitter, as this is where news about the electricity crisis plays out first.

Unfortunately Twitter, or Road Rage of the Internet as it has been called, does not contribute positively to one’s karma, which is the exact opposite of what is required here.

On the bright(ish) side, it does seem as if the whole drama is being adequately documented and analysed in the media.

Although there are fundamental issues at Eskom that need to be addressed, such as the fact that a state-owned entity has the monopoly over electricity production, I am optimistic that there are enough capable folks at Eskom, with spines, to band-aid the system back into operation.

I am less optimistic but still hopeful that this will result in deeper rectifications to both our power production strategy and, more acutely, the South African government.

On finding oneself in the most entirely wrong place for any sort of complaining.

GOU #1 left us for a week-long, zero-communication canoeing trip, along with about 60 of her fellow pupils, down the Orange River.

Although quite a challenge for our parental hearts, we did expect that this would be quite a valuable adventure for a 12 year old.

We were not wrong, but it sounds as if above-mentioned teenager experienced the adventure more like a week-long party with canoeing breaks thrown in for good measure.

While she was away, the rest of us spent the week on the East coast, in a beautiful coastal village called Morgan Bay.

To be more specific, we stayed at the Morgan Bay Hotel, a brilliant little family-run hotel at the core of the village.

The view from our room was not too shabby. In fact, it looked a little bit like this:

Morning runs, on barefoot, often looked like this:

… and sometimes the World’s Worst Trail Runner (me), took on trails, in wet sandals, which were perhaps a tad too technical. See the following beaut for example:

Experiment Alcohol Zero #2 is briefly interrupted.

Under immense beer peer pressure, and in the presence of locally brewed craft beer on tap, I finally broke my 2.5 month long alcohol fast with an Emerald Vale Amber Ale.

The beer was tasty, and the moment was suitably bittersweet.

This is the pose one strikes when one is having mixed feelings about interrupting a great health streak with a potentially super tasty beverage.

I was happy to find after 10 weeks of zero alcohol that I could drink craft beer like a normal person, without any acclimatisation or noticeable ill effects.

However, thanks to consistently great sleep and subjectively more overall acuity, I will probably continue with zero (or very little) alcohol for a while longer.

If you’re interested in this (or anything else), pipe up in the comments!

The End.

I am happy that we ended up with family in Betty’s Bay this weekend.

The recent fires have stripped away so much vegetation that I was easily able to reach a spot I had never been able to navigate to before.

I made a panorama in which you can hopefully appreciate some of the devastation caused by the blaze:

Friends, I wish you a week filled with deep gratification!

As for me, I am planning to start my Monday with some project-related stress, but after that I will attempt to move smoothly into further evolving The System, with the specific goal of counteracting my current anger- and dopamine-driven twitter phase with deeper and longer inputs and thoughts.

Weekly Head Voices #165: Get in my Pocket.

This short WHV looks back at the week from Monday March 4 to Sunday March 10.

In the week after that, I had actually decided not to publish this one, instead folding whatever I wanted to say into the next edition.

However, fear of yet another much-too-long WHV, along with my current preference for a short warming-up of the writing pipes, have led me to change my mind, and so here we are!

This post consists of a really short life part, followed by a longer nerdy pro-tip for the storage and retrieval of your web references.

GOU#3 turns 3.

It seems like just the other day when Genetic Offspring Unit (GOU) #3 joined us here in the warm and fuzzy Humanist Kingdom of WHV.

Well, the “beautiful pink little not-yet-walking but rapidly expanding cellular mega-city” never stopped expanding, and is currently surprising us every day with the new ways in which her neural network processes and transforms the reality she finds herself in.

Replacing Pocket with Just a Bunch Of PDFs (JPOP).

I’ve been a happy user of Pocket Premium since October 23, 2016, when they cleverly offered me a locked discount on the annual plan.

I’m a sucker for a deal, and I needed something with which to store archive versions of interesting blog posts and other web resources.

It served me well, as I frequently access and share especially research-related articles and blurbs, such as this one discussing the observation that aspartame (a sugar substitute found in popular fizzy drinks) interferes with some of your enzymes, possibly resulting in more weight gain that straight sugar!

(For Real Academic Articles, i.e. RAA-RAA, I am still a huge fan of Zotero. If Zotero had better mobile access, I would have used it for these straight web references also.)

ANYWAYS, recently the new beta pocket interface was failing me horribly as I was trying to find the exact article mentioned up above.

Typing “glu” or “glucose” was unsuccessful in finding another article “Artificial sweeteners induce glucose intolerance by altering the gut microbiota”, even although I could see that exact article in the overview screen. To add insult to injury, searching for “aspartame” also did not find that entry, although I had explicitly tagged it with “glucose”.

It could very well be that this is just a (serious) glitch in the beta system, but it was a frustrating reminder that for something as important (to me) as my collection of references (aka “argument-winning potion”), I was at the mercy of someone else, with almost no other recourse.

This frustrating led me to find an alternative solution, which became… a big ol’ bunch of PDFs! (call this JPOP, inspired by JBOD)

In order to do this, we need a method of turning web-pages into readable PDFs, and some system for the storage and retrieval of said PDFs.

Use a browser with ad-blocking and Reader Mode

The general idea is to use a browser with ad-blocking and some sort of reader mode, and then to print to PDF.

On desktop, I am using Brave Browser because of the great built-in ad-blocking, and because I strongly support the idea of micro-payments to long-form content producers instead of content-destroying ads in my face.

Because its built in reader mode, called Speed Reader, has not shipped yet, I’m currently using the Print Friendly & PDF extension.

Safari on macOS and Firefox have built-in reader modes / views. I can recommend the AdGuard ad-blocking extension for Safari.

Unfortunately, Safari on iOS 12 does not currently add the source URL to its virtually printed PDFs, so I’m using Brave there also, although on iOS I generally prefer Safari, also with AdGuard.

To print to PDF on iOS, simply print (swipe up, tap share, tap print), then do the zoom-in gesture to turn the print into a PDF, then share again to save out the PDF.

Store and name your PDFs so you can search them from everywhere

I store all of these PDFs in year-named sub-directories of a directory called refs in my Dropbox.

Each PDF is named “publication-date – publisher – title / stub”, so the full path is e.g. ~/Dropbox/refs/2019/2019-03-09 - CBC Radio - Your brain may need sleep to repair DNA 'potholes'.

On macOS, all of these PDFs are indexed by Spotlight, so I can find the ones I want quite quickly. Your operating system of choice should have something similar.

If you are a Dropbox Pro subscriber, the mobile app provides full-text searching to mobile spotlight also, so you can find any article lightning fast on your phone.

Google Drive will do this for cheaper, but Google Drive might also end up eating your files. ;)

Profit!

Now all of your web references are in PDF format, arguably the typeset-document equivalent of plaintext in terms of accessibility and future proofing.

As you change around your syncing and storage systems in the coming years, your faithful directory of PDFs will follow you wherever you go.

As an added bonus, these PDFs can be annotated with your notes and text highlights.

This ending is only a pause.

Thank you for sticking around for the warming up of the pipes.

I hope that they will not have cooled down too much before I find another bit of time to start on WHV #166.

There will be pretty pictures!

Weekly Head Voices #164: It’s what future you would want.

Pre-work not-too-shabby running route.

Welcome back friends! This WHV looks back at the two weeks from Monday February 18 to Sunday March 3, 2019. I was planning to release the edition of the WHV on time, but my need for a break was greater.

Because I’ve given up on ever mastering the art of the bullet-list form of the weekly(ish) status update, I am going to double-down on the old-fashioned sectioned prose form that you see before you.

Also, this post has again evolved into a long ramble. (It’s now Saturday March 9, time to start working on the next edition. I’m curious what form it will take.)

GOU#1 is #2

It feels like through these posts you’ve pretty much seen GOU#1 grow up before your eyes, so I’ve given myself permission to mention this moment of parental pride, hopefully quite briefly though (I write this blog not only for you, but also for me in 20 years time!):

GOU #1 has been elected as deputy head girl of her 1600+ pupil primary school!

She was really mature, also before the time, about this possible outcome of taking the #2 position. She seems to have made up her mind before the time that this would in fact be, for her, the best configuration.

This thoughtfulness of hers might have made me even more proud than the achievement itself.

Dreams of clean solar electricity wafting ineffectually against the greasy gears of government.

Way back in December of last year I mentioned that we were working on getting the house upgraded with a photovoltaic solar power system.

Some of you have asked me via various communication pathways how it was going.

Thanks to legislation, or rather the lack of communication around this legislation, the amount of physical progress we have made so far is close to zero. Oh, just make that zero.

My shopping list now looks as follows:

  • Unchanged: 3.6kW GoodWe EM hybrid inverter: Although a larger inverter would have been preferable, uncertainty caused by above-mentioned lack of communication motivates me to play it safe with this unit which is in the 2017 column of the approved list.
  • Unchanged: 2 x PylonTech US3000b lithium ion batteries.
  • CHANGED: 16 x Canadian Solar CS3U 350Wp or 355Wp solar panels.

It used to be common knowledge that monocrystalline panel power output suffered less due to high temperature than that of the cheaper polycrystalline panels. This is quite relevant, because just sitting there on your roof the whole day, these things can get really hot!

Well, I finally went and looked up the temperature coefficient of these current generation Canadian Solar panels, namely the CS3U range, which is -0.37% Pmax / ℃. This is in fact slightly better than the -0.39% of the monocrystalline panels I had on my list.

I am currently on the lookout for what is going to be my fourth candidate solar installer, although at this stage I would be quite happy with a talented electrician who is not afraid of heights.

(My second installer had difficulty keeping up with all of their work (probably thanks to load-shedding and also to the substantial price increases expected from our embattled electricity monopoly) and my third installer has decided to focus on commercial installations.)

My big and stupid misstep into Google Drive.

Somewhere during the past two weeks, I lost, forever and ever, at least three evenings.

Tipped off by a colleague at work, encouraged by my family’s mobile photos investment in Google Photos, and further tempted by the significant price difference and the family storage sharing option, I convinced myself that it was time to migrate my little empire of useless files (dropbox reports that I currently have just over 500000 (five hundred thousand) of them) out of Dropbox and into Google Drive.

This is how it looked on paper, i.e. in my head and in my Emacs notes:

  • I have about 70GB of photos taken with various family cameras of kids growing up, vacations everywhere and so on. These photos are currently not easily accessible by said family. If they were on Google Drive, they could be automatically exposed to Google Photos, which my family is already using!
  • My 237G of Google Drive space, sufficient for everything, costs R39 / month (that’s about $2.75), whereas my Dropbox subscription costs $10 / month.
  • The cheap subscription of Drive already enables one to do content searches. E.g. I could find scans of documents instantly by typing OCR’d words that occur in the documents. If you want the same with Dropbox, you have to go Pro (not Plus), and pay double, that is $19.99 per month.
  • Drive has a built-in facility to backup folders outside of the main sync folder.
  • There’s a great tool called rclone with which nerds can sync files to Google Drive from the command-line!

Four lessons learned uploading 500k files to Google Drive

  1. Google has servers down here in South Africa: With larger files, the upload could easily max out my 50Mbit/s upload.
  2. However, in spite of allocating and configuring my own client_id, I could not upload faster than about 3 files per second. Based on various threads on the rclone forums, this is a known issue.
  3. Google Drive’s selective sync functionality does NOT (easily) allow you to maintain a local version of an excluded directory in the same way that Dropbox does. This is especially annoying for those already quite annoying node_modules folders.
  4. Google Drive and its API support identically named files and directories, located in the same parent directory.

How did the wheels fall off then?

I was alternating between the official Google Backup & Sync client and rclone sync. I did this to check if rclone with a private client_id would be able to upload faster (it couldn’t) and because rclone showed sync progress more clearly with an estimated time of completion (all of this turned out to be wildly incorrect and variable due to all of those small files).

My logic was that as long as the two tools were not running in parallel, sync logic and checksums should prevail right?!

Well, that turned out to be a very sad assumption…

rclone, which I still believe is a great tool for bulk uploads and downloads, should probably not be used for syncing in situations like this.

Unbeknownst to me, it had created hundreds of identically-named directories everywhere. (See lesson #4 above.)

At about halfway through this multi-day upload project, I switched back to the official Google tool, which finally, FINALLY managed to sync everything after about 5 days I would guess.

I was briefly quite happy with Google’s arrow-in-cloud you-are-fully-synced icon in the menubar.

However, because happiness is so inherently fleeting anyways, I decided that it was time for the next phase of the project: Add the first Linux workstation to the little sync family.

Google Drive does NOT have a native client for Linux, although they’ve promised this since the start, and so I decided to try Insync, which seems to be one of the best of the third party clients.

I pre-seeded the sync directory on said Linux machine using rsync and then started the insync client. This is a use case which was often enough mentioned on the forums as being supported.

Initially, everything seemed to be going swimmingly!

However, soon I saw whole directory hierarchies with thousands of files disappearing simultaneously from both my local disc and google drive.

STAAAAAAAAHP!!! JUST STAHP.

A second, stubborn attempt, after having recovered files and synced everything up with Google’s tool, yielded similarly frustrating results.

Granted, the duplicate folders on Google Drive are a far from ideal test case, but deleting directories like that on both client and server is not defensible.

Defeated, I retreated to the expensive, but safe, embrace of Dropbox.

More lessons learned:

  • The lack of an official Google Drive client on Linux is debilitating to my workflow.
  • Handle the third-party Insync client with extreme caution.
  • The sunk cost fallacy is a real danger in cases like these.
  • The hours I lost are probably worth at least a year or two of Dropbox.
  • Having reliable incremental backups outside of your cloud syncing service remains important.

On that last point: Juggling my 500k files between Dropbox, Google Drive, then going live on Google Drive with real work before jumping into the shady world of badly implemented sync clients made me realise (again) the importance of a separate set of incremental backups.

Before my macOS phase (which started on May 6, 2015 when my employer bought me my first MacBook Pro and I wrote in my diary: “Bought 13.3 retina MacBook Pro early 2015, 128 GB SSD. I am doomed.”) I used to maintain a dirvish backup.

(Dirvish is an amazing tool by the way.)

The truly stupid and frustrating adventure I write about here, did at least lead to some learning, and to me hooking up a Seagate 4TB external drive to my desk at work. Now when I connect my MacBook, Time Machine performs incremental backups the whole day long.

The next time I have one of these moments of irrationality again, I will at least have the possibility of returning my files to sanity as soon as I do.

Thinking of future you.

There was one more learning I wanted to share.

I have mentioned before on this blog the well-known productivity trick of writing down, during your morning planning, the two to three really important tasks for the day.

In the Sam Harris podcast where he interviews Derren Brown, they briefly mention a really interesting take or perspective on the tip above.

When writing those tasks down, try to predict the two to three tasks the completion of which will satisfy future you the most at the end of the day.

It sounds like a small tweak, but this is a great way to encourage deeper (almost meta-)consideration of tasks that will really matter.

Additionally and more straight-forward than that, with this exercise you increase the chances that you end the day with that great feeling of closure that comes with getting important stuff done.

Weekly Head Voices #163: Ons wereldjie raak baie klein.

The view from a Sunday run in Onrus.

This WHV looks back at the week stretching from Monday February 11 to Sunday February 17, 2019.

I would like to share the following life bits with you:

Work: Plumbing and running.

I converted our one telemedicine product from virtualenv and requirements files to pipenv. Much has been said about pipenv, also in various dramatic contexts, but there is not much competition when it comes to reproducible builds of Python applications.

It’s interesting how wrapping up something relatively straight-forward like this (it’s the carpentry or plumbing parts of software engineering, one could say) can result in a fairly high level of satisfaction by the end of the work day.

Friday’s barefoot run on the beach was nothing short of epically enjoyable. Just a slight breeze, sun out but not too warm, goldilocks sand to run on and a ripe banana, entered into the system just before the run, contributing what felt like bundles of energy until the very end.

Weekend-reunion in Vermont.

On Saturday, GOU#2 and I (middle-children UNITE!) joined friends in Vermont (coastal village right next to Onrus, another coastal village) where I prepared for everyone present version 3.0 of “my” curry potjie.

There’s something very special to the ritual of slowly (in this case three hours and a bit) but very deliberately preparing food for your friends. The fact that a large chunk of it happens on a wood fire adds even more flavour to the experience.

Sunday started with a run on the coastal path from Vermont to Onrus, under perfect blue skies (see photo above).

Later that morning, we spent some time at the Onrus lagoon, in and around which I spent a large number of happy hours growing up. It was amazing being able to show GOU#2 around, and then seeing her playing in the same waters.

Mindful Elder Superheroes.

All packed up and on our way home, we decided to visit M and A, one of two aunt-uncle pairs who live in Onrus.

GOU#2, age 9, did an amazing job of focusing on the stories my aunt had to tell, and reciprocating with curiosity and questions. (I told her afterwards that I was proud of her, also for this.)

At one point, my aunt explained, almost apologetically, that their world had become really small.

They were able to go down to the beach and spend hours looking at the sea and at the people walking by.

I thought that this was such a humble way for them to articulate their growing perceptual ability to sense the whole universes of experience hiding away in all of the seemingly small moments making up the average day.

Pro-tip: Google PhotoScan for your pre-digital photos.

This was yet another great tip from LM: If you need to digitise and old photo or two, try the Google PhotoScan app.

Using your smartphone, you start by making one overview photo of your old print, and then the app guides you with four white filled discs to make four rapid shots of the corners.

A whole bunch of Google image processing magic ensues, and out pops a glare-corrected perfectly cropped version of the photo!

Below you can see a test with a photo taken in 1993. The flash glare on the door was real.

Main container and conduit of the weekly head voices, 25 years ago. If memory serves correctly, I was making (in x86 assembly language) a software tool to play Amiga Mod Music files. My implementation was one of the fastest on the block, as I was prone to 1) counting and minimising the clock cycles in my routines and 2) employing self-modifying code in order to shave off even more unnecessary conditionals. (I overwrote memory areas with the specific sound rendering implementation for the selected output device. Modern caching architectures would probably not like this very much.)

Closing thoughts.

It’s already Saturday February 23 as I write these hopefully almost final words of this post.

The plan was to make a super humble and compact bullet-list WHV, but then the week got super busy, and then I realised (again…) that I am truly terrible at bullet lists. (Please remind me when you see me again.)

What I am happy about, is that it’s now here for you to read.

Weekly Head Voices #162: Converse with a stranger today.

Crab on Strand beach.

This edition of the WHV looks back at the week from Monday February 4 to Sunday February 10, 2019.

It feels like this post took even longer than usual to get “done”. I think it might have to do with me breaking it up into several early morning writing sessions, which resulted in two partially formed blog posts compressing themselves quite inelegantly into this edition.

I will try to do better next time.

Anyways, the rest consists of a nerd part (which you could skip if you’re not interested in nerds or their things, but then you would miss the part where I explain why you should be using Signal instead of WhatsApp), followed by a story about conversations with strangers.

The Nerd Part

A reminder to mix up your messaging life with some privacy

By the end of 2017, WhatsApp had 1.5 billion monthly active users.

That’s a pretty serious chunk of the world population.

Down here in South Africa, WhatsApp dominates the mobile messaging space.

There’s nothing else that even comes close.

In order to communicate with the largest subset of friends and contacts, I need WhatsApp. In order to participate in school and neighbourhood groups, or to coordinate with service providers (pretty darned useful that), I have no choice but to use WhatsApp.

Unless some enormous calamity strikes, I don’t think that this is not going to change any time soon.

In January of this year, The New York Times reported that Facebook was planning to merge the underlying technical infrastructure of WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger.

Although this will result in users being able to cross-message between WhatsApp, Insta (I’m not a user, I just heard hipster kids calling it this) and Facebook Messenger, which is great, it will also enable the Facebook mothership to monitor very closely who connects with whom across all three networks.

Think about this: Facebook will be able to analyse, across all three of these giant networks, who interacts with whom and when, and sometimes in which way, and will be able to build an even more detailed and powerful social network than they have already done.

If we do nothing, everyone else will just keep on keeping everyone else on WhatsApp. This circular logic is extremely hard to beat.

If we’re even slightly concerned (ok, new we’re down to about 12 people, 5 of which read this blog), what can we do about this?

Install Signal on your phone, and use that whenever you can. (I started nagging about this in early 2016.)

Signal is one of the most secure and private messaging apps available. Importantly, there’s no company behind it that wants to mine your data for whatever reason.

Sure, you can keep on arguing that no-one else is on Signal. However, I’m here, and you can message me.

Once you install it in addition to the incumbents, you then have a great opportunity of becoming the token Signal user in your social sub-network who by the sheer power of nag-itude gets one or two of your friends to join this small but valuable network.

Whatever we can do to redirect a fraction of the world’s messaging traffic away from the Facebook behemoth is a worthwhile endeavour.

Visual Studio Code is evolving at a terrific pace

Looking at the changelog for the January release of Visual Studio Code, and the changelog for the January release of the Python extension, I was astonished by the development velocity on display.

I am the guy who got Microsoft’s Python Language Server working with the existing LSP support in Emacs, and then very fortunately two different open source projects ran with it. However, it seems like there are whole armies of programmers working on Visual Studio Code and its Python extension, which sometimes makes this feel like a micro-example of (a slightly wonky) cathedral and the bazaar.

In any case, where I used to fall back to Emacs for smaller Python projects where it wasn’t worth it firing up the PyCharm machinery, I now often reach for Visual Studio Code, which in a growing number of cases is even able to go toe-to-toe with PyCharm.

Pro-tip: Use z.lua to change directories Really Quickly

For years now I’ve been using either fasd or more recently autojump (because it installs on macOS with a one-liner more or less) to jump really quickly between recently visited directories in the shell.

However, in a stunning case of there-really-is-always-room-for-one-more-solution-to-the-same-problem, I ran into z.lua, a command-line directory jumper programmed in Lua (which I’ve always had a thing for), which is also many times faster than fasd or autojump.

Now, I simply do z blog to jump to the most frecent (frequent and recent you plebs) directory containing the word “blog”, or zf tele to show me a selectable list of the directories I’ve frecently visited containing the sub-word “tele”.

(Here’s a bonus pro-tip for macOS users: If you don’t mind scripting in Lua, hammerspoon is an amazing desktop open source automation tool. It is the spiritual successor to Mjolnir (hence its name), which you can use to script any number of shortcut-associated desktop tricks. I for example have code to resize any window to a relative portion of the current desktop, and to stick that window neatly into a specific quadrant or half of the desktop. This meant I could remove Spectacle from my machine.)

Conversations with Strangers

Thanks to lady luck, or perhaps thanks to serendipity engineering (hat tip to traveller tzhau), I have had the pleasure of some utterly unexpected but pretty epic conversations, with strangers, over the years.

(The secret is that you have to plug in to the conversation apparatus of a stranger. Just remember to configure the communication protocol to hallucin-8. No I don’t mean that you should go on a trip together. This just refers to the ancient mechanism of being able to experience vividly another’s reality via your real-time multi-sensory imagination, synchronised via the primitive but reliable speech signal.)

For example, back in WHV #84 I wrote about the fellow eternal foreigner I met at a weekend party (weekend parties are the best), who taught me the trick of applying gratefulness generously and continously.

One of the more epic conversations I never wrote about, is the two fellow travellers I met on the Final Flight back to South Africa after our brilliant Dutch adventure.

These were some of the darkest times of my recent life.

I had just watched for three days as our home was being hollowed out by the movers, until it was just an empty shell.

During that time, I slept in that empty shell, with the ever-increasing echoes of even the smallest sounds doing quite effectively the exact opposite of buoying my mood.

Spending some of these final few days with some of my best friends was truly bitter sweet.

By the time I entered the plane back to Cape Town, I was lower than I had been in a very long time.

My cunning plan at that point was to have a truly depressing flight, but fate had conspired to put me in row 44, where I found myself next to CL and CS.

I can’t remember exactly how the process started, but before I knew it we were embroiled in a solid 11+ hours of continuous and life-affirming conversation.

Besides the differences between us that made the cross-exploration that much more interesting, meeting someone on a plane usually has no to very few implications for later, so one is somehow even more free to open up and connect. In that sense, this is reminiscent of the conversations I’ve gotten involved in at AB.

(In this case, that assumption was proven wrong by pretty serious post-flight collaborations. If you’re reading this CS, thank you for that also!)

At a more recent weekend party (remember they are the best) I again found myself involved in a pretty intense conversation with a stranger.

Again, this stranger had wisdom to share, a tidbit of which I would like to reproduce here.

He referred to this guideline as not negotiating with the self.

If you’re like me, you are now making your “Huh?” face.

His example was about going to the gym, or rather, future him coming up with all kinds of excuses for not going. His rule was that in these cases future him had to go and, without any exception (there’s the non-negotation clause), complete the exercise bike session. Only then, if future him at that point still really did not want to go, was there the possibility of calling it quits.

This feels similar to what I’m trying to do with my checklists.

When I’m thinking about ways to live better, I am by definition in my rider-on-elephant state. It makes a whole lot of sense to use this time to lay reverse-traps for future me in my tired elephant-running-loose state.

The underlying idea is for Super-You to design systems, e.g. checklists, non-negotiable and easy-to-follow rules, and fully formed habits, that help Normal-Low-Energy-You to keep on functioning as well as possible.

A message from our sponsor Socrates

For edition #6431 of Really Abrupt and Sometimes Jarring WHV endings(tm) I shall end with a quote. I recently ran into this famous dictum by Socrates which I definitely resonate with:

ὁ … ἀνεξέταστος βίος οὐ βιωτὸς ἀνθρώπῳ

also known as:

The unexamined life is not worth living

Have a brilliant week kids!