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Sundries no. 1

Sundries (sə́ndrɪjz | suhn-dreez) ~ noun, plural: various items addressed in general


My wife bought me my very first office chair as a late birthday present. It's a Dexley chair from Staples (except without the head rest) and I like it a lot. The mesh is breathable and the chair as a whole reminds me of the Herman Miller Aeron, except much cheaper. This purchase symbolizes coming to terms with my circumstances, seeing as I've been working 100% from our tiny little home for 4 months and counting. Do I miss going to the office? Yes, I miss having the implicit work/home separation and I lament not having a 25-minute commute to listen to podcasts. However my daily work hasn't changed much since most of the people I work with directly are outside the US. Overall, it hasn't been that bad.

Speaking of working at home, there are both advantages and pitfalls. Advantages include seeing my wife more, being able to walk a few blocks into town for a stretch-and-coffee-break, and working on my front porch rocking chair, to name a few. Pitfalls mainly include more distractions (seeing my wife more, things I want to get done around the house, being in a "home" mindset when I need to focus, etc.), as well as the aforementioned work/home balance aspect. It's not the end of the world though (not yet at least), and I've learned a few helpful tricks for keeping everything in its right place:

  • Early to bed, early to rise
  • Take a shower every day and dress nicely but comfortably
  • Have good coffee around the house and make it routinely
  • Build a solid work-only playlist (more on this below)
  • Invest in a quality chair (as discussed above)
  • Embrace video calls, even for small things (without letting them waste time), and especially for catching up with teammates on a break
  • Stay off social media (honestly, delete it as far as you're willing to)
  • Consciously schedule the day, even if it's just a loose mental agenda
  • Balance free time between side projects/hobbies, home duties, and social time

I love listening to quality music, but not all music is suited to every occasion. For example, I love listening to metal at the gym (or the home gym... AKA the sidewalk) because it makes me feel way bigger and stronger than I actually am. But, personally, spine-crushing double-bass and apocalyptic imagery aren't my cup of tea while I'm trying to deftly refactor (my own) spaghetti code. That's only one reason why having a work-only playlist is so important. Another reason is that it helps to subconsciously define and initiate a "mental work zone". That said, feel free to check out my current preferred playlist for working, featuring such artists as Ryuichi Sakamoto, Richard Skelton, and Tasmin Little.

Before you ask "what about politics", yes I'm aware that a lot is going on in the world of politics right now. Frankly, it's not limited to politics; it affects everthing. Without going into too much detail, since failing to say or think the correct words in the correct order can get people doxxed or worse these days, I'll just post a few personal tidbits:

  • I don't have anything to prove to anyone, and neither should you.
  • It does no favors to anyone for you to adopt someone else's opinion without thinking it through yourself. Be open, but don't fall for dogma.
  • You're probably not "stupid" or "evil", even if someone accuses you of being those things. Ad hominem is, always has been, and always will be a logical fallacy, and you can bet money that those who engage in it are either compensating for being uninformed or simply being malicious and manipulative. That said, you're also probably never fully informed. Do the work.
  • Always be learning, and don't be afraid to act on what you've learned.
  • Research before you donate money. Many organizations are simply political donation farms in disguise, so make sure you know where the money is going before you give it to someone else.
  • The Harper's Mag letter on justice and debate is an important step in de-radicalizing the zeitgeist and making effective steps toward progress.
  • Don't disregard sensible people whose voices are being suppressed by The Powers That Be. Two such people (IMHO) are Helen Pluckrose and James Lindsay, who have done excellent work demystifying the dubious origins and malignant nature of Critical Theory, from the so-called Frankfurt School to the modern shift toward racial identitarianism. That said, come to your own conclusions.
  • Do not lie. Not about yourself, not about other people, not about statistics, not about anything. If you're lying, ask yourself why and then stop doing it. Be fearlessly earnest.
  • Be compassionate and humble. Don't be a pushover, but always work hard to love your fellow human beings well no matter what happens.
  • Vote. And don't just vote for who you think I want you to vote for. Your vote is and should be your own.

Unless I have some future change of heart, I will not be directly addressing politics any further on this site.


Anyway...

Otherwise, what have I been doing lately?

  • Not working out much. This needs to change.
  • Reading Exodus with my wife and discussing the ways we see ourselves in the character of Pharaoh, the ultimate sovereignty of God, and the historicity of the Exodus story according to archaeologists, Egyptologists, Christian apologists, the Bible itself, and our own sensemaking abilities.
  • Continuing to settle into our new place, since we moved in June.
  • Scraping the Federalist Papers and serving them from a database via a REST API and a simple client website.
  • Rooting for the Cubs and the Blackhawks since they've both been playing lately. As of now, I'm liking what I'm seeing, though I worry that the MLB's current lack of safety precautions will endanger teams and prevent the season from finishing.

The world is still spinning, we're the ones inhabiting it, and every day is a gift which must not go to waste. Stay safe.