Long time no write. I spent the summer at home with my kids. Quarantining in the woods with four small children turned out not be very conducive to writing. Or to doing most of my usual work, for that matter. I focused on keeping RubyTapas ticking along, and otherwise investing in family time, home improvements, and watching democracy fall apart.
I'll Trade Ya!
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As a result, there’s a lot I could write about creek trips and building tire swings and catching lizards and replacing light fixtures and buying chainsaws and playing board games. But I don’t have much to say about software development right now.
Consulting my notes, I didn’t even save any interesting programming-related articles this summer. Here are a few articles I did enjoy this summer:
- The Paranoid Style in American Politics is a classic from 1964 that’s all the more relevant today.
- Why Lord of the Flies was more about social class than about human nature.
- Malcolm Gladwell is America’s Best-Paid Fairy-Tale Writer. I think about this a lot, because a lot of my talks are (deliberately) an exercise in assembling some surprising facts into a compelling, possibly counter-intuitive narrative. Every truthful narrative is necessarily incomplete, and confusing narrative with “The Structure Of The World” is problematic.
Lately on RubyTapas I’ve been on a command-line one-liners kick. I also did a quick episode on using mitmproxy to spy on HTTP[S] traffic!
- #634: You Could Have Sed it in Ruby
- #635: ARGF, That’s some AWK-ward Ruby
- #636: I got my flippy-floppies
- #636: mitmproxy
- #638: Ruby as a Filter
Have you played the card game Fluxx, or any of its variants? It’s a game with constantly-changing rules. You start out with a single rule card in the center of the table, e.g. “draw one, play one”. One type of card that can be played is a “New Rule” card, which may take the form of new rules for number of cards to draw, hold, or play; new victory conditions; etc.
“New Rule” cards gradually accumulate, or sometimes supplant incompatible older rules. Occasionally a card will trigger a complete reset of the rules.
Now that I’m reverting to work-mode for the school year, I’m transitioning back to thinking less about who painted the floor with Jell-O and more about moving projects forward. It’s time to define routines and set up systems. And I thought, why not treat personal organization like a game of Fluxx?
I came up with these ground rules:
- Start with a blank sheet of cardstock (“the board”)
- Write rules on sticky notes (“cards”), and stick them to the board.
- The first card must be a rule about how to evolve the rules. Mine was: “Evolve this Board Every Sunday”.
- All the rules have to fit on the sheet without obscuring each other.
- The board is not comprehensive. Rules can be removed when they are obsolete, when they are supplanted, or if I have sufficiently internalized a habit that I no longer need an explicit reminder. Thus, “read every morning” doesn’t get a card, because I already do that without any prompting.
- Revise the board regularly, according to the rule-for-changing-rules.
Thus, my first Fluxboard:
This board reflects a distinct “no TODO lists” philosophy. We’ll see how it ages and evolves.
I don’t have much else to say today. It’s been an isolating summer; I miss you, my friends. Write back, and tell me what you did this summer. What are you thinking about? What has you excited?