Sabbatical Update, Week 2: Neatening Up

4 minute read

This week felt really long and was unexpectedly tiring. I think that's pretty normal after a big routine change, though – for me it usually takes about two weeks to settle in, even with something as simple as doing the same job from the office vs. from home. Nevertheless, I'm happy with my productivity and have so far been successful at planning my own work.

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


Selected new/updated/newly relevant ideas from the Zettelkasten:

  • StackOverflowForTeams: Reflections, lessons, and resources on using this fantastic collaboration tool at TheFederatedInsurance.
  • ObservationBias: an insidious category of mistake in statistical reasoning, lots of fun to try to spot.
  • FallOfMan: a very inadequate first version of my thoughts about the story that just keeps showing up, and to me remains fascinating in every incarnation.


No long-form reading this week to speak of! Have been focusing on working through some periodicals, blog posts, and lectures instead.

Lifetime reading progress: 1/2 books for August.

Tasks and projects completed

  • I finished everything I planned last week except for cleaning out my storage locker, which I plan to do on Monday (as the week finished out, I decided I would rather get my weekly blog post ready for Monday ahead of time). As expected, I'm only about halfway through the cleanup tasks in total, but the highest-priority ones are done.
  • Began converting a bunch of old paper flashcards on insurance and law I have lying around to Anki cards (after sorting out the ones there's little value in remembering now that I'm no longer working for an insurance company, which was about half of them). I plan to transcribe and rewrite 20 of them every day until I'm done – estimating based on the thickness of the pack, that will likely be more than one week but less than two.

Miscellaneous thoughts and anecdotes

  • While cleaning up, I found a special set of winter windshield wipers in my closet which I bought last year and completely forgot about, in the unopened packaging. I guess I'm early for next winter! It's not a good cleaning session unless you find something you didn't know you had.
  • Havana syndrome, a real-life sci-fi spy thriller plot, hits Vienna and continues to be creepy and mostly inexplicable, even with several good theories about possible causes.
  • Strong candidate for best ’90s singer you've never heard of: Eva Cassidy. Impeccable technique, unbelievable agility, and fantastic emotional expression. She died young in 1996, but she left behind a lot of unpublished recordings which have been dug out of the archives over the years since. Mix of jazz, folk, and pop. (listen: Over the Rainbow, The Water is Wide, Yesterday, What a Wonderful World)
  • I continue to find it remarkable how much better the very best people at anything are than those who are merely good. Like, as a vocalist I'm somewhere north of 99th percentile among the general population (after taking four years of voice lessons and singing in one of the most prestigious college choirs in the country, this is not a high bar to meet). And yet next to someone like Cassidy I feel like a drunk karaoke patron. In many ways, there's a bigger gap between good and great than good and awful.

Looking ahead

This weekend, out of town attending a memorial service for a friend and visiting family. While the occasion is not fun, I'll get to see and sing with a lot of people I haven't seen in a long time, so I'm looking forward to it.

Next week:

  • On Monday, I have a blog post and associated screencast on my commonplacing system coming out (post will be a much improved version of that link).
  • Continuing with cleanup tasks in the background (mostly in the late afternoon, in my “non-brain work” time slot).
  • Update GrokTiddlyWiki for the prerelease of TiddlyWiki 5.2.0, which will hopefully be coming out soon, and address a variety of feedback I've received since the last edition.
  • Due to a number of small features I am hoping to add, the GTW updates may take the whole week. If I happen to get done early, I'll either fill out with cleanup tasks or get started on developing a public starter edition of my Zettelkasten.