Chrome Tabs :
73 → 67
Gmail Inbox :
66 → 45 Unread, 72 → 50 Total
Note: I skipped a week of updates because there wasn’t much of note. I took a trip to Fresno to visit family, which partially contributed to it being a “short” week. But this time I was able to do pretty well on my “Sunday tasks” (reviewing the week prior, planning for the next) while in that environment, which is something I hadn’t really managed very well before. I also cleaned up my Grandpa’s hideously cluttered Windows desktop. We’ll see how long that lasts.
My mom asked me my opinion about something she was thinking about buying online. It was on sale, supposedly ending by the next day (spoiler: the “sale” wasn’t actually ending), so she kind of wanted to make a quick decision. I wasn’t familiar with the device itself, but the scare-tactic “sale” made me suspicious. So I took the opportunity to sit down with her and go through how I’d generally research something like that. I looked at the history of the website on Archive.org and could see it had numerous such “sales” over the last several years, all of which showed much shorter time frames than the length of time they actually lasted (e.g. “ending in 24hrs!” would appear several weeks or months in a row). We checked out the complaints on the Better Business Bureau, looked for competitors, etc. Sort of a skeptic’s approach. I’m hopeful it will prove helpful to her not just in this case, but for future situations like this.
Maybe one day we’ll have an AI-driven product/merchant evaluation tool that can do similar things and give you some kind of “confidence rating” in making a purchase of a given product or from a particular merchant. Already there are tools that do this for specific websites or platforms with multiple sellers, Amazon and Shopify most notably (Fakespot, ReviewMeta). But the “long tail” of many millions of smaller online retailers probably make that kind of approach more limited than would be ideal…
In my consulting work this past week I really got stuck in to a thorny problem, and one that is frankly outside my real areas of experience and knowledge. I was able to make some progress hacking around, but it took me a lot longer than I would have liked (the contrast is a flat rate, so this was all downside for me ). It brought some valuable lessons, though, not just about better managing contract work, but more interestingly - I think - about my own psychology, in looking at why I was so driven to put more and more time into it, even knowing the whole time that it wasn’t the best use of my time and abilities.
As part of this process, I was also reminded of and came to understand even more deeply how challenging Discourse hosting and management can be. At least if you’re trying to do anything outside the very specific, simple, daily operation of the platform (host a forum, add themes and plugins). If you want to migrate from another tool, for example, it’s kind of a nightmare, despite the existence of import scripts for a variety of other tools. This absolutely comes down in good part to my lack of knowledge of Ruby/Rails. What it exposes, though, is the weakness in that platform stack in ease of use, I think.
I’m not a web management pro, and yet I’ve managed to successfully host and troubleshoot numerous forums (and other websites) of reasonable size and level of activity… But only on PHP (LAMP), and most often with Cpanel/WHM. Yes, those tools might be inefficient, they might even be seen as “hacky”. But look at it from the “greater good of more people expressing themselves on the Internet” point of view: the more accessible the hosting of good tools can be, the better for everyone. This is where Discourse really falls down, unfortunately. Even Flarum, its closest competitor, which runs on PHP, is more complicated to setup than Simple Machines Forum and other similar “old school” PHP options. There aren’t simple answers and this is not to damn Discourse or any other tool built on a more technical/less popular and easy stack. But I do think there are seemingly needless barriers in place that I’d like to see erode with time…
I had another really interesting experience in therapy this past week. I’d had a conversation with my mom, who is new to having a therapist, about how I tend to approach sessions: do I have a plan, a topic I want to discuss, or do I just go with what comes up? I’m definitely more of a “list of things to talk about” person, but I’m also aware that this is kind of my default mode, in many things aside from just therapy. And it has its downsides. One of the things we sometimes do in session is a simple mindfulness practice, to see what arises. Often it’s inspired by or centered on something we want to explore more. But what if we started sessions that way? It seems like an obvious thing to try, and I realized in talking to my mom that I very seldom did so.
In any case, after a brief discussion, my therapist and I decided to do just that, and it brought up some notable emotions. At one point in the practice, he told me to just place my hand over a part of my body where I felt “anxious” or “tight”, and it was a remarkably tender feeling, and transformative of the underlying sensation that brought my attention there in the first place. So I decided to try some more sessions this way. Curious to see what arises! And I’m also intending to try practicing similar things at home (exploration of physicality and tenderness with self, etc.).
I finished Season 1 of Ted Lasso, which I’m watching with my TV buddy. It’s such a good show! I don’t really know how they make it so dang earnest but still genuine and not saccharine. I may have said so before. But it remains true. Curious to see how Season 2 goes! I also finished Season 2 of The Expanse, which brings me to the last episode I’d seen on a previous watch some years back (before Amazon picked it up). Now on to Season 3, which I’m quite curious about!
As part of the consulting work I mentioned above, I decided to upgrade my laptop to Windows 11 Preview (so I could use WSL). Well, it turns out Windows 11 seems like a giant pile of garbage, at least so far. Not only did they make some horrible changes (and massive reductions in customizability and functionality) with the Task Bar, but it also seems notably less stable than Win 10. I’ve been seriously contemplating a move to Apple the last year or so, driven in good part by the combination of many Mac-exclusive productivity apps of note, and the impressive performance of the M1. The terribleness of Win 11 might just end up being the nail in the coffin if they don’t improve it notably by release (which I hear is in October, so it seems unlikely they will!).
After making a list of local IFS therapists a few weeks ago, I finally started reaching out to the most promising ones. So far I’ve had one response, from someone whose practice is full. I’m hopeful I get at least one with an opening before I’m through the list! If not I’ll have to start looking at exclusively remote options (there is an entire collective of remote-first IFS therapists). But I’d prefer to get into a situation where there is at least a good possibility of in-person sessions some day…
I had some more interesting discussion on a livestream with Steve of “Big Rig Travels”. He has been planning a web hosting move for quite some time and decided on short notice to just go for it. It didn’t go well. So his website has been down a few days now. I’d offered previously to help him with the move, and didn’t really understand why he hadn’t even mentioned it to me. But the more I think about it the more I realize he may just really like doing things himself. Even if it’s imperfect, even if there is help offered. It’s not just about pride (or perhaps not about it even at all), I think he actually does enjoy figuring these things out himself, doing it himself. He’s a trucker, driving a big rig, a more-than-full-time-job, so I always feel like I want to make things easier for him if I can. But he has built up his whole website and a fairly sophisticated operation from his own wits or what he can pay (e.g. in developing a custom livestreaming app), and I think taking more help on things might seem a bit like losing some of that independent, self-made spirit. Which I can certainly understand!
Finally, I’ve been meaning to clean out my closets, and some other areas of storage in my house, for literally years. This week I finally got a solid start on it thanks to an upcoming “stuff swap” some friends are hosting. I already have a decent pile of books, shoes, jackets, etc. No matter how much more I’m able to do, this will be a notable improvement! It feels good to make progress on something long-planned, and to work toward bettering my home environment (however invisible the clutter was, it still got in my way, e.g. every time I wanted something in a closet!).