Now, 11 November, 2017

Thinking about
Recruiting, training, and how to propagate a good company culture across locations so you get siblings instead of clones. I would like to see offices that incorporate the best of the local area and the home office culture.

Stimuli and input
Chewed through “The Rook” by Daniel O’Malley to get a fiction fix. I stopped listening to Robin Dreeke’s “The Code of Trust” because the superlatives about his code didn’t feel justified and I felt like the book was getting arrogant in its delivery. Finally finished Seneca’s “Letters from a Stoic” in paper, it is on my re-read list.

Craft and unnecessary creating
I am a weaver! Got a 20in Ashford Knitter’s loom with a 7.5 dent heddle and I’m experimenting with different gauges of yarn in the warp and weft. Christmas knitting is completed.

Exercise and health
This year I have gone from not being able to do proper pushups, to doing 20 of them, now I’m working on pushups from my fists with knees on the ground. That feels like progress. I’m also ten pounds lighter than on August 2nd when I started experimenting with a mostly Paleo diet.

Now, 12 August, 2017

Thinking about
Public speaking, I have stuff to say! Co-presented a talk at the company internal conference, ‘Free cookies and usability for all,’ and baked nine dozen cookies for it. I never want to smell cinnamon and brown sugar again. Solo speaker on a lightening talk, ‘Agile for better mental health,’ which is a subject I care a lot about. Both were well received.

Submitted two talks to Dev Up, a local tech conference in October. I’m terrified they will accept one, or both. This is the first time I have submitted talks to a conference. Two years ago I would never have done that.

Stimuli and input
Finished ‘Incognito, the secret lives of the brain,’ by David Eagleman, and I have lost all confidence in memory, vision, and decision-making. It’s a fascinating book, only the second one on Audible I’ve got through. The next book on Audible is Eric Barker’s ‘Barking up the Wrong Tree: The Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Success Is (Mostly) Wrong.’ Liking it a lot so far.

Still working through ‘Letters from a Stoic’ by Seneca, and ‘Difficult Conversations’ by Stone, Patton, and Heen. Both are good, and I’m taking my time.

Craft and unnecessary creating
Christmas knitting. That is all. And some sourdough scones. And a ridiculous amount of cookies for the ‘Free cookies and usability’ talk.

Exercise and health
I think it has been over a year since I have sparred with a non-black-belt at karate. I feel like I am fighting better, I’ve picked up a bunch of new moves and tweaked old ones to nail the technique.

Experimenting with a Paleo diet, with sad results: I’ve lost weight and I really miss cheese, dairy, and bread.

If you want to kill off a sugar craving, bake six batches of the same cinnamon sugar cookies and give them all away at a conference talk. By batch five, you will be craving salt, celery, veggies, and meat. And bacon. All the bacon!

Now, 2 July, 2017

Thinking about
Still noodling on distraction and focus, also considering the system one and system two thinking that Arthur Doler laid out in a useful and informative Lunch and Learn at work.

Picked up a copy of Cal Newport’s book “Deep Work,” it seems to tie in well with what I’m thinking about now.

Stimuli and input
Seneca’s “Letters from a Stoic” is the main book I’m reading, adding in “Difficult Conversations” by Stone, Patton, and Heen for the QA book club at work. I made a list of all the books I’ve read because of the Farnam Street blog, there are ten titles so far. I used to live on Farnham Street, so the name gives me a little trouble.

Also need to learn some Angular.js and Protractor.js for testing it.

Craft and unnecessary creating
I’ve been a lifelong English scone baker, but I discovered a recipe for sourdough scones and I think it is better than my original one. The scones come out lighter and fluffier, with more structural integrity. Experimenting with adding in coffee flour (made from the fruit of the coffee berry), and unusual flours (sprouted wheat, oat flour, cornmeal).

Exercise and health
My karate instructor has been working me back through the coloured-belt techniques (orange, purple, blue, and green for Tracy’s Karate). It’s surprising how vicious they are!

Now, 22 April 2017

Thinking about
Distraction. I turned off all the notifications on my phone except texts, it feels like I have less pressure to poke at my phone at all times.

Also thinking a lot about how you lead a team across multiple cities, especially ones you can’t just drive to. How do you maintain a relationship with people over WebEx sessions, phone calls, Slack and email?

Stimuli and input
Listened to the Audible version of Seneca’s Letters from a Stoic and I’m going to be reading it with a colleague at work. Finished Thanks for the Feedback and it was good. Annoyingly, “why didn’t I think of that” good.

Craft and unnecessary creating
I want to finish spinning some sea green Polwarth silk fibre into yarn and spin something else. I’m knitting asymmetric triangle/curve scarves and liking the look of the finished piece but still unsure how to wear them without looking awkward.

Drawing and doodling has fallen to the wayside, I want to figure out how to bring that back. I have some visual learners at work who need to see a picture or a diagram before something will click.

Exercise and health
As an experiment, I signed up with YogaGlo so I would have some exercise to do while on a business trip, and I’m keeping the subscription. A half-hour of yoga first thing in the morning seems like a good habit to have in my life.

Now, January 2017

Thinking about
What habits do I want to install in my life? I’m learning the Elixir language with a tutorial and book from Big Machine, Taking Off With Elixir. It’s the first functional programming tutorial that hasn’t made me feel like I’m being hit over the head with a heavy mathematics textbook by someone yelling at me that I’m stupid (Haskell and Scala, this means you).

Stimuli and input
I started using highlighter pencils in books I was reading (only ones I own), it makes flipping back through them a lot faster. Started a questions log, to capture questions that get stuck in my head, an idea from Todd Henry’s book Die Empty. Planning to use the back of that notebook to record things I’ve learned, got that idea from an article by Tré Wee, 52 key learnings in 52 weeks of 2016.

Craft and unnecessary creating
Daily doodling will return after my National Novel Writing Month novel is complete. There are three chapters to go and it seems like a decent story. I have a couple of Kickstarter books on drawing, one on figures and one on cartoon character design, that should arrive soon.

Exercise and health
I got my black belt this year, so what’s next? Thinking about a personal push-up challenge. I would like to weigh less and have more endurance.

Now, 25th July, 2016

Thinking about
My lightening talk on Risk Analysis and RFC 1149 for the first Asynchrony Labs internal conference on Friday 15th July. This is the first talk I’ve done where I’ve been recorded. There was applause, I survived.

Stimuli and input
Peter Drucker’s article Managing Oneself from the Harvard Business Review was published as a small paperback. It is the first book I remember reading with a highlighter pencil in hand, and I wrote notes as I read. Interesting book, I prefer a much shorter feedback loop than 9-12 months. My librarian soul shudders at marking up a book, but a work friend described sharing a book between their siblings, each one marking up with a different colour, so that the book becomes a conversation between them.

Craft and unnecessary creating
After a long stretch of hats and scarves, I’m working on toys. Made two of the My Little Slug pattern for work, a hedgehog for me, and an elephant toy for a friend. Looking at a mouse next, from Rebecca Danger’s book 50 Yards of Fun.

Now that I’m finished with The Focus Course (well worth, it but way easier if done in a group than solo), the morning drawing habit can come back. I’ve missed it.

Exercise and health
I deadlifted 95lb for 8 reps, two sets. I’ve never been a weights person, but it is a good workout. My personal torturer switched me from Sparkpeople to MyFitnessPal, because you can share the food diary way more easily. I confessed to the Tim Horton’s maple donut before he saw it.

Embarking on an experiment to have a set breakfast for a week to see what effect that has on my weight, if any. One sweet potato, and one roast chicken patty, protein and carbs.

Now, 4th June 2016

Thinking about
Scala. I’m new on a team doing a Scala project and learning how to write code and tests. It bothers me when training for Scala spends half the time saying how dumb and awful Java is, there’s no need for that. I felt a lot better about Scala after a day spent doing mob programming working on a REST endpoint, and then explaining my Hello World Scala code to one of the other QAs on the team. I’m back in beginner mode and it was jarring at first.

Stimuli and input
Reading The Lean Startup by Eric Ries, feels like Agile software development for businesses.

Shawn Blanc’s Focus Course is starting a June camp where a group of people goes through the course day by day. I’m looking forward to that, I stalled on day 12 on my first time through. I have a new Baron Fig notebook and some time set aside to get the course done.

Craft and unnecessary creating
Picked up Doodle Drawing by Sarah Skeate and Craft-a-Doodle by Jenny Doh, using both books to create cute aliens and monsters on sticky notes. I’m using Sharpies and ballpoints.

Been baking a lot of scones and rock cakes, refining the recipes to get something tasty. Went strawberry picking the last weekend in May and made jam, only the second time in our marriage we’ve done that.

Exercise and health
I am a first degree black belt in Chinese Kenpo! You can call me Shodan, it means “beginning level.” My instructor is refining the 120 techniques list down to ten or so that really work for me, and I’m back to getting sparring lessons.