Week ending 12/26/2021

:thinking: I have avoided publishing these updates the past few weeks. I’m not sure why. I think in part I just felt a little overwhelmed with “things”. But here’s this one, and I intend to catch up on the other missed weeks (I have the “happenings” recorded in my personal journals, I just need to expand them a bit for publishing). Overall I have found this journal publishing practice to be valuable, so I intend to continue it, at least for now.

Chrome Tabs : 79 → 74

Gmail Inbox : 50 → 38 Unread, 57 → 43 Total :tada:

:confused: I had been planning a small cocktail gathering at my house (4 people) for this post Sunday. It was a really nice catalyst for some progress on decorating, etc. We had a COVID safety check-in a few days before and decided we were OK but would all try to get tested before getting together. Unfortunately the day of the party I woke up and had a bit of a tickle in my nose. I had done a home test the day before and it was negative, but to be safe we had to cancel. I then got a PCR test the next day, which showed up negative by Wednesday. Over the next few days I had other possible suuuper minor symptoms, a little more sneezing than normal (maybe?), an occasional tickle in my nose or throat. Things I probably wouldn’t have paid attention to pre-COVID. I did another home test and still negative, and I never developed what I’d even call symptoms of a “cold”. So I don’t know what’s been going on, if anything, but it’s frustrating. I did decide to see my mom on Christmas Eve day, after that 2nd home test, and that all went fine. So… :man_shrugging: Maybe I’m just COVID paranoid at this point (though seeing the Omicron surge, I feel like perhaps I should call it “COVID prudent” :grimacing:).

:pie: I have a (new) friend who has been running a successful pie popup for over a year now. Her pies are awesome and even before I got to know her a bit better, I had some understanding of her process and challenges since she writes fairly in-depth about some of her own experiences and thoughts on the world of food (a fact I really appreciate!). Anyway, I learned recently that one thing she’s been frustrated by is cutting good pie slices, getting them uniform, keeping the cuts clean, and just the time it takes to actually cut all the slices she needs. I thought, well, there has to be something that does this well, but of course I knew she must have at least tried the more common options. My drive for optimization was immediately triggered - helping people by making their work more efficient is something that truly fires my engine - so I dove in to see if I could find or even build something better.

It took a surprising amount of searching to find something different to try (mainly because the company I found doesn’t seem to sell through Amazon or really any of the major retailers). But at last I saw something worthwhile, plastic and fairly simple-looking, but affordable enough to just get it and experiment. I also ordered a whole pie from her, a rarity as I usually just get slices (which are currently 1/6th of a pie). So, long story short, I picked up the pie and tested the cutter on the 24th and it seemed to work brilliantly! I haven’t heard word of her doing a successful test herself (I gave her the cutters I’d bought, I just wanted to test and make sure they worked beforehand!), but I’m hopeful it goes just as well for her as it did for me. And if so, it could save her some time and frustration, which would definitely put a smile on my face. :slight_smile:

:wine_glass::christmas_tree:During the pandemic I became part of a group of cocktail nerds we sometimes refer to as a “drinking society”. Last year we began a maybe-annual tradition of watching A Very Murray Christmas (Netflix special) around this time, drinking some cocktails, and just hanging out together, on Zoom (or equivalent). So we did it again this year, and although it was small and I miss some of the folks who used to show up more regularly, it was still nice to see a core group and share in some mellow, silly fun. I also made a couple cocktails I really liked. One I’m calling “Cabin in the Woods” which is an old fashioned variation with basically all the woodsy/tree-infused stuff I have (Terroir gin, palo santo gin, Barr Hill Tomcat gin, birch liqueur, etc.) and a bit of smoky bitters (I might try using my new cocktail smoker on it instead). The other is a hot toddy variation I’m calling the “Hot Potato”, with Japanese whiskey, sweet potato liqueur, purple sweet potato powder (makes it red), lemon, maple syrup, and hot water. It’s delicious and red. Oh yeah, and there’s toasted marshmallow on top! :grin: Bad picture for illustration.

:tv: I finished Season 3 of Parks and Recreation. It obviously kept my interest enough to get me through it, but man… is it just me or is Leslie Knope kind of a terrible person? Like… a really bad friend kinda? And also, she must be deeply traumatized to react in such a craaaazy way whenever she’s put on the spot. I dunno, I’m just finding her pretty annoying at times. Certainly very endearing other times. But it’s some of the other characters I generally enjoy most, especially Chris Traeger (to my surprise, I don’t usually love Rob Lowe, or at least the characters he tends to play). Even Libertarian Ron Swanson is generally preferable to Leslie for me. :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes: Anyway, I’m starting Season 4, we’ll see how far I get. It’s not that it’s not good for some laughs, it’s just that there is so much good-to-great TV these days that if it’s not fully clicking for me, I don’t want to spend the time on it. Season 4 is make or break for me.

In brighter TV-land news, my regular TV watching night with a friend has been interrupted the last few weeks after we finished Ted Lasso (sooo good! I’m sure you knew that though) and had yet to pick something else. She finally suggested The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and although we’re only 2 episodes into it, I have the feeling I will enjoy it right through. We’ll be finishing up Season 3 just as Season 4 comes out, I believe, so the timing is great.

:memo: I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that I work with a coach (like a “life coach”). One part of our work together that got introduced at some point was the idea of “homework”. We only meet every 2 weeks, so it seemed valuable for me to be trying to do stuff in-between sessions. For a while I think it even worked reasonably well (though maybe my memory is rosier than reality), but certainly for the past ~6 months homework has been quite hit and miss in terms of me actually getting much done on it. It was sometimes a catalyst for some interesting insights, but when I did it at all it was often last-minute and not as useful as it could be. That said, in my most recent coaching session we had a possible insight and decided on an experimental shift toward focusing on my “Recreation” Category rather than “Passion Projects”, and without going into detail on that I’ll just say it’s a notable shift. And notably, the homework that resulted from that felt different than previous recent instances. That said I still hadn’t done any by the time of this writing. :roll_eyes: But… it did feel different to think about, and that’s something.

:rose: In my dating life I have long felt that something was kind of off in how I approached things. I’ve had relationships develop from a mix of circumstances, some were long-time friends first, others I met online. I’ve felt as though the friends-first ones were better relationships, overall, but the sample size is very small, and the confounding factors are many. Still, it felt like with “friends first” I was onto something. And yet, I really didn’t want to just put on my dating profile that I was “looking for friends” or “wanted to be friends first”. It’s not that it was necessarily entirely inaccurate, but it also wasn’t entirely accurate. For example I’m also open to more casual relationships, etc.

Some time in the last year or two, as I became more aware of the growing vocabulary for gender, sexual orientation, etc., I started to think that the term “demisexual” might actually be what best described my feelings. Basically, from my understanding, it means you don’t develop sexual attraction to someone until you develop an emotional attachment. But I had only talked with friends about the idea and seen perhaps one online definition where it seemed broad enough to apply to me. It didn’t quite feel right though, and I don’t know why I didn’t keep looking for other options.

:bulb: This past week I finally decided to figure it out properly, and after looking at a list of terms (and looking up a few I didn’t know), I realized the problem: demisexual refers, specifically, to sexual attraction (well, of course it does), and it’s not that I need to develop an emotional attachment before I feel sexual attraction. I’ve had casual(ish) flings, slept with someone the first night I met them (just once), etc. What I realized is that I am, I believe, demiromantic. In other words I generally need to get to know someone before I develop romantic feelings. This makes so much sense! It really hit home, too, when I read that “demisexual” is actually considered to be on the asexual spectrum, which I definitely am not.

It was frustrating to have been using the wrong term and thinking it was right for a few months, but now knowing the right one (I’m pretty sure), it feels really good. I want to write more about this because I think the value of seeing gender, sexuality, romance, etc. as nuanced and complex spectrums, and having words to describe our specific needs and ways of being, is super, super valuable and important for our mental health. And I think too many majority-culture, “normal” people (they see themselves as “normal”, i.e. cisgender, hetero, etc.) don’t necessarily see the value or understand what the fuss is about with people using these new, perhaps confusing terms, wanting to use different pronouns, etc. What I think they may not realize, though, is that everyone is different, and that putting a name to your differences, acknowledging (and even celebrating) them, helps you understand yourself better and meet your own needs more successfully. So I guess I just hope my own discovery and appreciation of this name-to-a-feeling experience might be relatable to some of those people, if perhaps the related experience of e.g. a pansexual genderfluid person they saw on Tik-Twit-Book is not.

:test_tube: A little more than a year ago I got involved in The Productivists, first as a Discord server, and then as a forum that I helped add to the community. The Discord was active and full of insight and interesting conversations when I joined, and the forum got an early start with much of the same. But over time things have slowed and quieted quite a bit in both areas. I have also always been frustrated by the split between forum and chat, and the inability for the two to interact in particularly useful ways (there is a notification in Discord when a forum post is made, and you can login to the forum with Discord credentials, but that’s it).

Now at last Discourse itself has actually started testing an integrated live chat system, and even in alpha it is already remarkably good and Discord-like. The key difference, though, is that it is inside Discourse, and you can copy chat messages into forum threads (thus preserving their value long-term, making them search engine indexed, etc.), you can login and reference people in the forum from chat (unified profiles), etc. It promises to be really helpful for communities like ours.

So this week I proposed to the other co-founders that we begin testing the alpha chat plugin on our own forum! It will involve moving to new hosting and doing more of the server management ourselves (currently we use a “managed” hosting service). But over the past year I’ve become more experienced hosting Discourse in that way, so I’m fairly confident we can make it work, and gain the benefits of integrated chat, etc. I’m excited for the potential and hopeful that over time it will both revitalize the community and begin to capture more of the insight there for long-term benefit, as well as perhaps provide a useful example for other previously Discord+Discourse communities. Implementation starts soon…

:brain:🏋‍♂ As I gain experience in my relatively new IFS therapy practice, I am starting to more readily see the reactions and interactions of my various parts in moments and activities throughout the day. This comes up particularly around certain areas of greater personal and emotional challenge, one of which for me is exercise. I’ve always had a shall we say “complicated” relationship with it, a lot of self judgment, a critical, even shaming voice in my head. Even a few months ago, just as I began IFS, I had started to be able to hear at least 2 parts interacting around experiences of physical exertion, and now I am starting to further clarify the roles they are playing, and see that perhaps there is even a 3rd part in the dynamic. The more I understand about the interactions of these parts in this context (the “system” if you will), the more I think I will be able to find ways to address the challenges that come up. That’s the hope anyway. So far it seems promising.

:camera: I have been a hobbyist photographer for nearly 20 years, and I find a lot of joy in some of my sharing practices deriving from it (most particularly around captured memories of friends and family, nostalgia, etc.). I also share some of my more aesthetic-oriented work, and often really enjoy the feedback I get. Despite this, my walls have been bare in my house for literally years. No art, no photos. And I’ve wanted to put photos up! My photography practice has also often been a slow and lonely one, because despite moments of sharing as I mentioned, more often photos will sit for months or actually years before I share them, if I ever do at all. So there are literally 100s of what I would call good-to-great photos that nobody but me has probably ever seen.

:blush: Well, my mom came over on Christmas Eve to spend some time with me, and as a Christmas present she helped me go through a bunch of my photos (I have nearly 200k in total! but we only looked at a pre-selected set of the better ones of course, hah) and pick out some good candidates to finally get printed! The output of this, a set of photos that at least one other person agrees are wall-worthy, is great, but the process itself was equally rewarding. Like I said, there are many photos that no one else has ever seen, and my mom in particular hasn’t seen since she doesn’t see many of my photo posts. So this was a concentrated opportunity to share my photography passion with my mom, tell stories of travels and experiences, marvel at the beauty of the world together, and get some really nice appreciation and feedback from my mom. This wasn’t the only reason it was a really nice day spent together, but it was definitely an activity that made me feel really good!

:white_check_mark: Lastly, one of my intentions with this whole digital garden is to actually publish some of the things I think about on a daily basis - ideas, theories, etc. But, despite the low friction to doing so here, I still don’t do it very much. Despite the “work in progress” framing, I still fear judgment of half-finished ideas, incomplete arguments, etc. So I’m glad that this past week I was able to publish another idea that’s been bouncing around in my head the last few years: