Weekly Head Voices #239: Embarrassing finitude

This edition of the Weekly Head Voices, number 239, looks back on the three weeks from Monday February 7 to Sunday February 27, 2022.

Figure 1: Fiery sunset in Betty’s Bay.

Figure 1: Fiery sunset in Betty’s Bay.

House gets more energy reserves

In the first week of February, my house gained an additional 4.8kWh of lithium ion battery storage for a total of 11.8, so that we are able to harvest more of the copious amounts of sun in the summer.

The complete stack looks as follows, with the new UP5000 on top, and the two “old” US3000 units (3.5kWh each) under it:

Figure 2: A cluster of lithium ion house batteries.

Figure 2: A cluster of lithium ion house batteries.

I can already see the positive effect of this on the daily line chart of solar energy stored: Where previously there were gaps, because the battery was full, the hot water geysers were either already hot or had not come on yet (in our house, these act as water batteries on fixed charge times) and we were not drawing much load, the gaps are smoothed out and the area under the curve is consistently higher.

… while human has to make peace with limited energy reserves

As a human, you have to deal with a limited amount of energy every day, as if the fact that your total time on earth was embarrassingly finite was not challenging enough.

In other words, during one’s waking hours, of which one gets a limited number, one can’t rely on operating at the highest energy output all of the time.

As far as I can surmise, one can increase one’s daily energy through the consistent and continuous application of positive lifestyle choices.

This can be hard work, and due to the infernal complexity of organics (have you looked at a map of metabolic pathways recently? – you should really go take a look, it’s complicated but also really interesting) and the effects of aging maybe even an intractable problem, and as if that’s not enough, the right lifestyle can be extremely boring (to those around you).

My mornings usually start pretty nicely, but by the middle of the afternoon my brain starts disassembling itself anywhere from just after lunch to later in the afternoon.

What I have recently started noticing, is that when I enjoy one of those highly productive days with focus straying sharp until late in the afternoon, I pretty much have to tone it down a bit the next day.

I can still do good work, but I do need to approach the day in a slightly more relaxed fashion in order to make it through the whole thing in one piece, and to increase the chances of having a highly productive day after the toned down one.

The rickety raft of life directions and priorities

Staying on the theme of limited energy, but taking many steps back from the cyclical alternate day grinding effect, I’ve had to make peace with another phenomenon:

Again thanks to embarrassingly limited energy, one can only focus on a subset of one’s life directions and priorities at any one time.

For example, when your children are younger, it’s normal to dedicate a substantial chunk of your time to them.

Between that and the necessary parts of work, not much time is left for one’s own hobbies, like Trying To Be a Better Human, or for other worthy goals, like writing that novel(la) (short story, err or maybe just a nice haiku).

Conversely, when you’re training for an important cycle race (not me, a friend), some of those other dimensions by definition spend time on the dimensional back burner.

So while you probably have a longer list of priorities which are all very important to you, you have no choice but to make peace with the fact that at any one point in time, you can only deal with a fairly narrow subset.

To me it looks the most important to make peace with this fact, and to treat it as a deliberate and honest choice.

Oh and don’t flip flop too much. (that’s meant for me)

Young human wise beyond her years

GOU#1 and I were chatting in the car, on way back from one of her social commitments.

We talked about sleep. (Had she gotten enough?)

She mentioned people that get by on six hours per night and seem to get more done…

As I was preparing to attempt commenting Socratically about this, she pre-empted me by volunteering that when she sleeps well, and for much longer than six hours, she experiences that she is better with other humans, and that she feels emotions more intensely.


Two pages per week

Soooo…. on the topic of GOU #1 and how best to spend my puny energy:

You might remember from WHV #194 when GOU #1 revealed her cunning plan for completing a PhD, part of which was writing only 136 words a day for a year, leaving the two sandwich years for respectively planning and proofreading, leading to a perfect thesis.

In the recent Lex Fridman podcast #264 with Tim Urban, he of Wait but why fame, they start talking in-depth about procrastination at the 2 hour mark. (relax, you can listen to it later. <ba dum tiss!>)

(Urban considers himself a procrastinator, but he is a deep thinker, and so this is a pretty interesting bit of conversation.)

He starts off with the example of a writer who is able to commit to producing only two pages per week, and by consistently hitting this pretty modest sounding goal, is able to prepare a book per year.

Glossing over the fact that 200 pages is perhaps not a very impressive book, at least in terms of girth, publishing one every two years would be frankly amazing.

He then talks about this idea of being able to attain something substantial and worthwile by consistently chipping away.

He is clearly searching for the right word, but then comes up with compiling.

I would really like to think that he was in fact searching for our old friend compounding.