Sabbatical Update, Week 14: A Bunch of Stuff I Didn’t Plan On

5 minute read

Looks like it has been 6 weeks since I posted here! Things have not been going quite how I expected, but they should be back on track about now.

If you're currently on Control-Alt-Backspace, you can read this post on Soren's Zettelkasten.


A number of items here in my Zettelkasten have been published or updated, but no larger items.



My lifetime reading is not going according to plan. I won't try to count where I'm at, but I've definitely gone through fewer books than I was hoping to. Two per month has turned out to be a more ambitious goal than I expected because most of the books on the list go substantially slower than my average reading speed (plus I'm finding tons of other things I want to read!). I may be able to finish two this month yet.

Tasks and projects completed

  • Helped deal with a family emergency, which started off the unplanned period of my sabbatical.
  • Went on a week-long solo road trip to the Buffalo National River in Arkansas. Aside from part of the park being closed because there were several suspected murderers hiding from law enforcement in it, everything went smoothly and it was a beautiful spot! I hiked about 40 miles and kayaked a bit as well (due to the drought across much of the United States this year, the river level was very low, so I made this a smaller part of my trip than I ordinarily would have). On the way back, I also got to visit a good friend from college who I hadn't seen since graduation. She is thriving; it's so much fun to watch my college friends turn into real adults!
  • Had a few initial meetings on one possible job to take after my sabbatical winds up, and started thinking about other options.
  • Explored Minneapolis, found a neighborhood to move to, saw some apartments, and applied for one; I haven't put down my deposit yet due to a snafu with terminating my current lease, but there's a very high chance I will do so soon. I'm pleasantly surprised how affordable most of Minneapolis is currently compared to many medium to large cities in the US. (I'll still be paying twice what I was in small-town Owatonna, but I had a roaring great deal here on a smaller place than I want going forward with the rise of remote work – it was less than 15% of my income.)
  • Played some NetHack; it's the annual November tournament. I played an embarrassing amount in high school (amounting to months of realtime), so I am still pretty good when I find the time to play.
  • Working on gathering together my medical records, which have gotten distributed over a large number of offices owing to the many places I've lived over the past years.

Miscellaneous thoughts and anecdotes

  • In one of the sets of medical records I reviewed, describing me: “The patient is a sophomore at St. Olaf studying computer sinuses.”
  • From Bryson: A Scottish gardener named Patrick Matthew came up with the theory of natural selection some years prior to Darwin, publishing it the same year Darwin set sail on the Beagle. Unfortunately, he chose to publish this insight in the appendix of a book called Naval Timber and Arboriculture, so nobody ever heard about it.
  • I need to relearn how to parallel park before moving to Minneapolis. In Owatonna we have so much open parking it is ridiculous, so I haven't had a reason to do it since I bought my car five years ago. Our minor streets – carrying maybe five hundred cars a day, if that – are so wide that you can turn around by making a U-turn from one side of the street to the other.
  • A delightful analogy explains just how many ways a 52-card deck of playing cards can be arranged (it would take dozens of orders of magnitude longer than the age of the universe to see all of them even if shuffling rapidly).
  • I discovered accidentally last week that, for the four and a half years I've been living in my current apartment, I've been carefully using two separate keys for two locks which are actually keyed the same. To be fair, the landlord did give me different keys and tell me they were for different locks.
  • Someone noticed that the major port of Long Beach had been brought to a standstill by…a local zoning rule forbidding empty containers being stacked more than two high because it is ugly. (Suggestion: maybe don't live next to a port if you find shipping containers too ugly to look at?) Amazingly, after a carefully orchestrated Twitter campaign brought this absurdity to the attention of someone in government, the rule was suspended for several months – before the day was out.
  • This happened last year, but a fortuitously placed sculpture of a whale tail prevented injuries when a rapid-transit train overran an end-of-line station in the Netherlands.

Looking ahead

I was originally planning to have the latest TiddlyRemember published several weeks ago, which obviously didn't happen. I'm now trying to finish that this week, as well as putting out an introductory video showing how to use it. I also need to begin refreshing my JavaScript skills and learning the React framework, as this will be relevant for one of the jobs I'm looking at.

Looking even a little further ahead, aside from celebrating Thanksgiving, the week of Thanksgiving (two weeks from today for my non-US readers) I will be moving from Owatonna, Minnesota to Minneapolis, so I am unlikely to get much else done, and preparations for that will be sprinkled through the days prior as well.